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Heinz Edgar Lehmann

Heinz Lehmann was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1911, and received his MD from the University of Berlin, in 1935. In 1937 he immigrated to Canada and in the same year, he took a post at the Verdun Protestant (later Douglas) Hospital, a psychiatric inpatient facility in the suburbs of Montreal (Quebec), with which he remained affiliated for 60 years. In 1948, he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University in Montreal and became actively involved in teaching. He rose on the academic ladder to full professor, and served as the Chairman of the Department from 1970 to 1974 (Shorter 2011).

Lehmann became involved in psychiatric research with drugs in the early 1940s. In his first project, the findings of which were published only in 1979, he studied the differential effect of pentobarbital on yawning in psychiatric patients (Lehmann 1979, 1993). Subsequently, in 1944, he published a report on the therapeutic effect of massive doses of nicotinic acid on post-traumatic confusional state (Lehmann 1944), and in the late 1940s, developed a short-lived hypnotic, containing nicotinic acid, a barbiturate, scopolamine, and apomorphine (Lehmann 1949).

In 1954, Lehmann was propelled into dominance by being the first in North America to publish his findings on the effect of chlorpromazine in psychomotor excitement and manic states (Lehmann and Hanrahan 1954). The impact of his paper was so profound that in 1957, he was presented with the prestigious Lasker Award (Ban 2011). Lehmann was also the first in North America in 1958 to report on the effects of imipramine in the treatment of depression (Lehmann, Cahn & DeVerteuil 1958), and among the first in the same year to report on findings in a clinical trial with iproniazid in depressed and apathetic patients (DeVerteuil & Lehmann 1958).  During the 1960s, he was also involved in developing one of the first rating scales for the assessment of changes in the treatment of depression (Lehmann, Cahn and DeVerteuil 1958), and methods for the evaluation of psychoactive drug effects that were based on psychological performance tests (Lehmann and Knight 1961). As the Principal Investigator of a grant from the US Public Health Service to support the operation of an Early Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit of the network organized by the Psychopharmacology Service Center of the United States, Lehmann was also involved during the 1960s and ‘70a in the clinical evaluation of numerous new psychotropic drugs in development (Lehmann & Ban 1963).

In recognition of his contributions, in 1976, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada; and in 1998, he was recipient of the Pioneers in Psychopharmacology Award of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum. There are also several awards honoring his name: The Heinz Lehmann Award of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Heinz Lehmann Award of Excellence of the Quebec Psychiatric Association, and the Heinz Lehmann Research Award, established by the New York State Office of Mental Health, where he served in the last decade of his  life as Deputy Commissioner in the Research Division.

Ban TA. Preface. In Shorter E (volume editor). “Starting Up", in An Oral History of Neuropsychopharmacology - The First Fifty Years: Peer Interviews (Thomas A. Ban, editor).Volume 1. Nashville: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; 2011, p. 30.

DeVerteuil RL, Lehmann HE. Therapeutic trial of iproniazid (Marsilid) in depessed and apathetic patients. Can Med Assoc J 1958; 78: 131-3.

Lehmann HE. Post-traumatic confusional state treated with massive doses of nicotinic acid. Can Med Assoc J 1944; 51: 588-60.

Lehmann HE. A new`preparation for sedationin organic brain disease  and senile  disturbances. Can Med Assoc J 1949; 60: 157-9.

Lehmann HE. Yawning: a hpmeostatic refelx and its pschologcal significance. Bull Menninger Clinic 1979; 43:13-6.

Lehmann HE. Before they called ipsychopharmacology psyhoparmacology. Neurosychopharmacology. 1993; 8: 291-303

Lehmann HE, Ban TA. ECDEU Progress Report1961-3. Archives. July 4, 2013.

Lehmann HE, Cahn CH, DeVerteuil RL. The treatment of depressive conditions with imipramine (G 22355). Can Psychiatr Assoc J. 1958; 3: 155-64.

Lehmann HE, Hanrahan GE. Chlorpromazine, new nhibiting agent for manic excitement and manic states. Arch Neurol Psychiatry 1954; 71: 227-37.

Lehmann HE, Knight DA. Measurement of changes in human behavior under the ffects of psychotropic drugs. In: Rothlin E, editor. Neuropscyhopharmacology. Poceedings of the 2nd International Meeting of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum. Amsterdam:  Elsevier; 1961,  291-303.

Shorter E. Introduction. In Shorter E (volume editor). “Starting Up", in An Oral History of Neuropsychopharmacology - The First Fifty Years: Peer Interviews (Thomas A. Ban, editor).Volume 1. Nashville: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; 2011, pp. LII-LIII.


Antonio E. Nardi

April 17, 2014