W. Edwin Fann: A History of the Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute

W. Edwin Fann’s reply to David Janowsky’s comments


Dave Janowsky’s comments evoke a number of memories and reminiscences. Dave was employed in one of the two open clinical investigator slots for the Clinical Division of the Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute (TNI), having been recruited there by John M. Davis, who was to be the first Director of the Clinical Division. Recruitment by Vanderbilt University (VU) to fill these two federally-funded positions had been on-going since the grant was first awarded and everyone concerned at VU was excited that two such seasoned investigators – with the highly-prized Ivy League/NIMH/West Coast credentials – were to join our group. John had the additional cachet of being a high-profile, heavily published scientist. Dave’s commentary regarding the circumstances of John’s and his departure from NIMH confirms what we at VU had surmised: that it was not “pull” from VU alone but “push” from NIMH as well that drew them to VU and the TNI. The Institutes were well-known to be highly competitive arenas – “the land of the sharp elbows” and that this could happen to someone like John and Dave, of such sterling qualifications and accomplishments, was no surprise. I believe that the residual emotions from such treatment, and loss of tenure there, colored John’s (and Dave’s) early attitudes and interpersonal relationships at VU and made them less tolerant of my relative neophyte status. John was the proverbial walking encyclopedia of psychopharmacology and was generous in sharing his knowledge and co-authorships. From the beginning, John used his knowledge, professional contacts and energies to the benefit of the TNI. Dave brought a breath of fresh air to VU’s rather stodgy, small, psychoanalytic Department of Psychiatry. As John had said he was, Dave was a gifted ward administrator and quickly got the research ward fully staffed and coordinated, patients admitted and projects under way. I learned much from John and Dave and am gratified to have profited from the tenancy of my relationship with them both.


October 3, 2019