Carol A. Tamminga holds the Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Chair and the McKenzie Chair in Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical School and is the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and the chief of the Translational Neuroscience Division in Schizophrenia at UTSW. She is also director of the brain tissue program at UTSW, which is one of four regional collection nodes in the United Sites for Autism BrainNet.
She received her M.D. degree from Vanderbilt University and completed residency training in psychiatry at the University of Chicago. She served on the University of Chicago faculty from 1975 to 1979 and moved to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for training in neurology in 1978. After joining the faculty at the University of Maryland Medical School in 1979, she practiced research, clinical care and teaching there until joining the faculty at UTSW Medical School in 2003.
Tamminga’s research is focused on examining and understanding the mechanisms underlying schizophrenia, especially its most prominent symptoms — psychosis, memory dysfunction and its autistic manifestations — in order to build rational treatments for the condition and for its manifestations. She evaluates the function of the living human brain in individuals with and without schizophrenia and autism, using brain imaging techniques. Then, building on this knowledge, she uses human postmortem brain tissue to translate the functional alterations from the living human brain into molecular observations of the conditions. Her ultimate goal is to base novel pharmacologies for psychosis and memory dysfunction on these observations and use the altered in vivo imaging and postmortem molecular changes as biomarkers and targets for identifying animal models of disease and novel, active pharmaceuticals.
She has served on the advisory boards of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. She has also been a member and chair of the Psychopharmacological Drugs Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as a consultant for the Orphan Products Development Review Group of the FDA. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1998 and was awarded the Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research in 2011. She has won the highest prize in the Society of Biological Psychiatry in 2019, the Gold Award.