Jay Amsterdam: Vignette to the photo of William (Dutch) Dyson (1985)
Janusz Rybakowski’s comment
In its vignette to the photo of William (Dutch) Dyson, Jay Amsterdam offered extensive laudation of this excellent person. In whole agreement with his description, I would like to add only a few things from my perspective.
My acquaintance with "Dutch" dates back to the end of 1976 when I started my Fogarty Fellowship at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania; it was several months before Jay was due to join me. I was introduced to Dutch by Alan Ramsey from the University’s Depression Research Unit where I worked for more than one year. During this time the Unit was situated in the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital, a short walk from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania building, which was located on 3400 Spruce Street. The Unit was headed by Joe Mendels and Alan Frazer was also a member of the team. The Lithium Clinic, directed by Dutch, was on the first floor in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I recall Dutch as an extremely friendly person and very enthusiastic about lithium use. I also remember his secretary, Sally, who helped him in the organizational matters of the clinic. At this time, Dutch had already been a co-author of papers on lithium action in depression and on a possible role of intracellular lithium - issues in which I was greatly interested.
I worked closely with Dutch, both during this fellowship as well as during my frequent visits to Philadelphia afterward. In the meantime, Jay took over the Unit, which was transferred to the University Place at 3600 Market Street; Alan Ramsey and Joe Mendels disappeared from the University; and Alan Frazer moved to San Antonio to take a chair of the University of Texas Department of Pharmacology.
My collaboration with Dutch resulted, among others, in two common publications. The first, “Alexithymia and somatic conditions in patients with affective illnesses during lithium prophylaxis”, suggests that alexithymic traits may play some role in somatic symptoms emerging in affective patients during lithium prophylaxis (Rybakowski, Dyson and Amsterdam 1988). The second, “Factors contributing to erythrocyte lithium-sodium countertransport activity in lithium-treated bipolar patients” is about the mechanism of lithium-sodium countertransport (LSC), the main mechanism transporting lithium out of the cells (Rybakowski, Amsterdam, Dyson et al 1989). We analyzed, among other things, the association of LCS with biochemical parameters related to lipid metabolism and thyroid function.
I also participated in research on a possible role of Borna disease virus in affective disorders which Jay and Dutch were carrying out. In connection with this, I cannot resist mentioning a Polish connection, which was instrumental in these virology studies. Hilary Koprowski (1916-2013), was the director of the Wistar Institute, located just across Spruce Street from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania building. Koprowski discovered the first live polio vaccine and received an honoris causa doctorate from several universities, among others from my alma mater, Poland’s Poznan University of Medical Sciences; the latter was conferred on him in 1998.
The news about Dutch's passing away in 1993 reached us when Jay was visiting with me in Poznan. In was kind of a shock because although he was 78, I remembered him from my recent contact as being in good shape. We miss him greatly. Dutch was an exceptional person, good clinician and researcher, and will be remembered as “outstanding” for his work on lithium therapy in the USA.
Rybakowski JK, Amsterdam JD, Dyson WL, Frazer A, Winokur A, Kurtz J. Factors contributing to erythrocyte lithium-sodium countertransport activity in lithium-treated bipolar patients. Pharmacopsychiatry. 1989; 22:16-20.
Rybakowski JK, Dyson WL, Amsterdam JD. Alexithymia and somatic conditions in patients with affective illnesses during lithium prophylaxis. Psychother Psychosom. 1988; 49:1-5.
March 28, 2019