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

W. Edwin Fann’s comment on Fridolin Sulser (1926 – 2016) on the Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute


         Leo Hollister’s recorded interview of Fridolin Sulser is redolent of nostalgia for me. One of the more gratifying privileges afforded me during my tenure at the Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute (TNI) was my association with Fridolin Sulser and the Basic Science group there. Fridolin was an energetic and voluble conversationalist and during his vigorously pursued work-day at least, a steady source of authoritative information, delivered extemporaneously or on request.

         This recorded interview provides a clear example of Fridolin’s remarkable intellectual liveliness and an inkling of his immense fund of information. I was without any formal research background when I was brought on-board the TNI, so placing myself within Fridolin’s (and Jim Dingell’s) tutelage provided me with remarkable and dependable instruction that I badly needed. This guidance and tutoring was always readily available, digested (for the most part) and translated into the clinical work and instruction I was conducting and receiving in John Oates group at the Vanderbilt Clinical Research Unit, and with John Griffith.

         For a beginner like myself, no recognized Fellowship, however well-structured or venerable, could have surpassed the scientific informational substrate provided in this less-than-formal training suite with Fridolin, Jim and the other basic science colleagues at TNI. In my relationship with John Oates and his group and Fridolin, Jim and the TNI colleagues, I believed I was intercalated within an association of world-class professionals in my field and that Dr. Allan Bass’ dreams and plans for the TNI were coming to fruition. All of this enhanced my self-confidence as I (slowly) shed my tyro status and ventured to make invited presentations, visits to other academic institutions and in my subsequent career as a clinical scientist. Fridolin was entrusted with the scientific and administrative leadership in the development of TNI. While Fridolin’s extraordinary charisma and energies cannot be conveyed by this recorded interview, we have been conferred here ample evidence of the remarkable scientific authority by which he led our group and are indebted to his friend and colleague, Leo Hollister, for this illuminating interview.


October 10, 2019