Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology

Robert D. Kerns, PhD

Robert D. Kerns, PhD

Robert D. Kerns,  PhD, Yale University

I am most pleased to write these introductory remarks about Bob Kerns as he receives the 2016 Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology. This award will add to the many awards he has received throughout his career — but a special one since it is a “career capper,” and because it is in honor of Nate Perry, who Bob both knew well and worked closely with on Division 38. If you look at Bob’s CV, one thing about his awards becomes clear – he has been recognized by many organizations and entities for his service, including the APA Division of Public Service, our own Division 38, The Veteran’s Administration, The American Academy of Pain Medicine, and The American Pain Society. Service may not be sexy, but service gets things done, and Bob epitomizes getting things done!

Bob and I have known each other since we were pups in graduate school at Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, IL. Bob received his Ph.D. in bio-clinical psychology in 1980 following his internship at The Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in West Haven, CT. (The bioclinical psychology program was a dual degree PhD program in clinical and physiological psychology, an early fore-runner of today’s clinical health psychology programs.)

Bob remained with the V.A. for his entire “first” career, spanning from 1980 to 2016, progressing from Intern, to Director of the Pain Management Center, to Chief of Psychology. He also took on a 7-year role as the National Program Director of Pain Management at the V.A. Central Office in Washington, D.C., where he shaped a new direction in pain management at the V.A. that mandated biopsychosocial treatment of veterans with pain, and paved the way for integrated care in the entire U.S. Healthcare system.

Since his retirement from the V.A. this year, Bob has relaxed into the position of Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry & Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and the Department of Psychology at Yale University.

Bob’s CV contains pages and pages of empirical publications, book chapters, and books, as well as many, many scientific presentations nationally and internationally. He has been continuously funded by the V.A. since 1981 (thru 2019), and, not content with winding up his career with “only” V.A. grants, merit awards, and program awards, he applied for, and received an NIH R01, funded from 2014-2019.

Bob recently told me he had a serious disorder called F.O.M.A. – “Fear of Missing Out,” and he is clearly not planning to rest on his laurels anytime soon! (By the way, Bob is famous for making up acronyms for stuff, but most of them are not fit for print – you will have to ask him about his others).

In terms of service to Division 38, Bob has served on the Council of Representatives (twice), as member-at-large on the executive board (twice), as D38 President (only once!), and as a founding member of the interdivision Health Services Council. Clearly, this man has F.O.M.A. disorder, and we are the beneficiaries. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Robert D. Kerns as the 2016 Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology.

Beverly Thorn, PhD, ABBP
The University of Alabama