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Frank Ayd was born in Baltimore in 1920 where, he spent his entire life in private practice. Among the pioneer psychopharmacologists he was a founding member of the American College of Neuropsyhopharmacology (ACNP) and like his peers in State Mental Institutions and the Veterans’ Administration he was a consummate clinician who witnessed first-hand and documented the earliest effects of chlorpromazine (Ayd 1955), reserpine, amitriptyline (Ayd 1960) and mephenesin (precursor to meprobamate). In addition to his own observations he co-edited, “Discoveries in Biological Psychiatry” (Ayd and Blackwell, 1970), the proceedings of a symposium at which each of the original clinicians and scientists described their role in the discovery of reserpine, chlorpromazine, iproniazid, imipramine, haloperidol, meprobamate, the benzodiazepines and lithium.

Ayd was energetic in communicating his knowledge to a wide professional and lay readership. He published probably the first psychopharmacology best seller,“Recognizing the Depressed Patient” (Healy 1997) and later in life, the massive ‘Lexicon of Psychiatry, Neurology and the Neurosciences” (Ayd 2000). Until his retirement in 2003 he edited and published the “International Drug Therapy Newsletter,” detailing advances and controversies in psychopharmacology to his peers in the field.

Frank Ayd died in 2008 at age 88; a devout Catholic, father of 12 children and a former consultant to the Vatican on medicine and ethics.

Ayd F.J. Treatment of Psychiatric Patients with Thorazine. South.Med.J 1955; 48: 177-86

Ayd F.J. Amitriptyline (Elavil) therapy in depressive reactions. Psychosomatics 1960; 1: 320-5; Ayd F.J. Lexicon of Psychiatry, Neurology and the Neurosciences. Second Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott: Williams & Wilkins; 2000

Ayd F.J., Blackwell B. Discoveries in Biological Psychiatry. Lippincott: Philadelphia/Toronto; 1970.

Healy D. The Antidepressant Era. Cambridge; Harvard University Press: 1997, p .75

Barry Blackwell
August 1, 2013