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


Samuel Gershon’s comment on Barry Blackwell’s comment on Thomas A. Ban´s comment.


        Thanks for your comment, Barry, and for the detailed outline of the history provided in this collating document of one of the important research centers in neuropsychopharmacology over the past 40 years.

        All these centers  were initiated with hope and vitality, but due to whatever reasons, the many changes in the attitude for supporting them and other management decisions, they all came to a halt

        I can only add that I also saw this pattern in my experiences working in several of them. The first was the Schizophrenia and Neuropsychopharmacology research Center at the University  of Michigan in Ann Arbor, funded by NIMH and greatly helped by the efforts and support of Jonathan Cole with Prof. Ralph Gerard as the Director. The center invited participation by scientists from all over the world, thus creating a great group of interesting colleagues. The master plan was, in my view and that of several other colleagues, not likely to produce significant findings.  So, several of us got permission to conduct some of our own projects on which we worked successfully together, as well as fulfilling our roles in regard to the master plan. These investigator-initiated projects were creative and productive, but the vast accumulated data on the master plan is still, I think, locked away in file cabinets somewhere. Thus, this project slowly came to an end.

        The second was the St. Louis Research Institute which was affiliated with the University of Missouri and received a brand-new research building. I was there for two years and had one or two colleagues join me from Australia. The center was funded, in part by the state and partly by NIH grants. This group produced some interesting and important work. However, with people coming and going it became weakened and eventually closed.

        I could go on, ventures like the Manhattan Project can be organized this way,  but in my experience,  I believe a more organic creation seems necessary to create longevity. The smaller groups I had the good fortune to be associated with seemed to work more creatively and pleasantly.


June 25, 2020