Science & Technology Society & Culture

Lawrence H. Sweet named inaugural holder of UGA’s Sperduto Professorship

Lawrence Sweet

Athens, Ga. – A clinical neuropsychologist whose research explores the relationship between physical changes in the brain and conditions as diverse as dementia, nicotine dependence and obesity has joined the University of Georgia as the inaugural Gary R. Sperduto Professor of Psychology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Lawrence H. Sweet, who comes to UGA from Brown University, has authored more than 50 peer reviewed research papers and has received funding from several National Institutes of Health agencies, including the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute. He is the co-editor of the book Brain Imaging in Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience and holds a patent for a method for measuring changes in brain activity over time.

Sweet uses a technique known as functional magnetic imaging, or fMRI, to provide objective assessments of brain activity and to predict treatment outcomes. His research has examined the neural mechanisms behind successful weight loss, how cardiovascular disease affects cognitive function and how the brains of smokers respond to various rewards. In 2010, he and a colleague received a patent for a new method that combines brain imaging and a common test of working memory and can be used to determine the effectiveness of drugs for conditions such as dementia or multiple sclerosis, for example.

“Neuroscience is critical bridge between the fields of psychology and biology, and the addition of Dr. Sweet to our faculty puts us at the leading edge of a discipline with far-reaching applications,” said Franklin College Dean Alan T. Dorsey. “The support of donors such as Gary Sperduto allows us to attract and retain faculty that keep the college at the forefront of teaching, research and service, and the benefits extend far beyond our campus.”

Sweet holds a bachelor’s degree in German studies and psychology from the University of Minnesota and master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Ill.

Prior to coming to UGA, he was associate professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I. He was director of the Butler Hospital Neuroimaging Center and served as a psychologist at Butler Hospital and Miriam Hospital, both in Providence. Previously, he was a behavior therapist at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin.

“Dr. Sweet’s research is illuminating our understanding of some of the nation’s most pressing health issues—from obesity to addiction to dementia—and we’re thrilled that he’s joined our department and clinical psychology program,” said W. Keith Campbell, professor and department head. “Thanks to the support of Gary Sperduto, one of our distinguished alumni, our already strong department is achieving a new level of excellence.”

Sperduto is the chief executive officer of Sperduto and Associates, Inc., a firm of corporate psychologists and management consultants based in Atlanta. Sperduto earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology at UGA and conducted his clinical internship at a Harvard University teaching hospital in the Boston area.

In addition to supporting the UGA Franklin College, Sperduto served as a faculty member at the Director’s College presented by the UGA Terry College of Business and the National Association of Corporate Directors.