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


William Petrie’s comment on Thomas A. Ban’s comment


        I read your comments extracted from Leo Hollister’s interview of you with interest. As I remember, we needed studies for viloxazine, amoxapine, oxepine, mianserin and melperone to help fund the operation which Tom got through his relationship with Canada and the US although I was never aware of the specific finances and required pharmaceutical funds to keep our activities going. Unfortunate also was the lack of substantial state support. 

        I was an academic refugee into private practice but have been back at Vanderbilt now for almost 10 years. My TNI time started me into geriatrics, a field I have loved and which has brought me great satisfaction. As you remember, we needed to start a geriatric unit of about 30 patients at TNI and Leon Joyner, from Tennessee, helped set that up. 

        You also taught me extensively about drug discovery and development. I think of you every time I prescribe trazodone, which is frequent. Mianserin, Viloxazine and Melperone were three drugs I felt should have made it to market in the U.S. I thought at the time that Fridolin Sulser was somewhat of a barrier to what could have been an excellent synthesis of preclinical and clinical work.  

        I think I was drawn more to practice, hopefully enlightened practice, than to writing and methodical research where I never really thrived. I have done many clinical trials in my practice, however. You conferred to all of us your extensive perspective on psychopathology and guided us in very positive directions. In addition, I remember you telling me that you knew what you did because you had the opportunity to see so many patients in your years of practice.  I have thought of this often during my work. I’m not sure many (certainly not me) could stay up with Tom until 4 am writing.

        In retrospect, our work was important. For example, the loxapine in geriatrics was one of the first dementia trials although our assessments at the time were not up to today’s standards.

        I remember fondly Olaf Fjetland, Bill Guy,  Dave Shaeffer, Joe McEvoy (who has enjoyed an excellent career in antipsychotic pharmacology research), William “Buddy” Wilson (who worked with all of us and I appreciate his excellent statistical help and his wonderful personality), James (“Jim”) Brannen, Mohamed (“Mo”) Ragheb (who published material on the effects of anti-inflammatory agents on lithium and papers on anticonvulsants in bipolar disorder), Suzanne Flatt and others.

        You were a guiding force for us all. 


April 30, 2020