International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (2018) 21(1): 1–2 doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyx113 Obituary obituary In Memoriam Dennis L. Murphy, MD – Neuropsychopharmacologist, Scientifc Mentor, and Friend Dennis L. Murphy, MD, known to all as Dennis, passed away on September 23 2017. His death was unexpected; he died of respiratory failure after brief hospitalization. Our thoughts and deepest sympa- thies are with his wife, Nancy; daughter, Julia; two sons, David and Steve; and the extended family. Dennis received his undergraduate degree from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and his Medical and Master of Science degrees from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dennis began his research career while completing a residency in psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. Dennis had a long and distin- guished career in the National Institute of Mental Andrew Holmes – Dennis Murphy – Klaus-Peter Lesch: Hiking the Doe Mountain Trail, Sedona, Arizona, Spring 2005 Health (NIMH) Intramural Research Program (IRP). He joined NIMH as a clinical fellow in 1966 and became Chief of the Clinical Neuropharmacology our current understanding of pathogenesis of neuro- Branch in 1977, which was incorporated within the psychiatric disorders and their successful treatment Laboratory of Clinical Science in 1983. He became is particularly outstanding. Dennis inspired others by a Fellow of the Collegium Internationale Neuro- example. He was unconditionally passionate about Psychopharmacologicum in 1974. science, a rigorous and persistent researcher and a Dennis received numerous awards and distinctions, distinguished leader in his field, a gifted teacher and including two Presidential Meritorious Executive influential scientific mentor, all across more than Rank Awards; the U.S. Public Health Service’s Superior four decades. While at NIMH, Dennis explored the Service Award; the Department of Health and Human neurobiology of neuropsychiatric disorders with a Services’ Distinguished Service Award; the Alcohol, strong focus on mood and anxiety disorders using Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s neurochemical, molecular, genetic and cellular tech- Meritorious Service Award; the American Psychiatric niques in animal models and humans. In addition Association’s Hofheimer Prize for Research; and, the to authoring over 900 scientific publications and 4 Society for Biological Psychiatry’s A.E. Bennett Award books, Dennis’ legacy includes over 100 students and for Clinical Research. fellows, of whom more than 30 went on to serve as When Dennis retired in his late seventies at the end chairs of psychiatry and basic science departments in of 2014, he was able to look back on many decades of academia and industry around the world. research in neuropsychopharmacology and biological I first encountered Dennis after his presentation on psychiatry. His contributions to science are more “Hormonal responses to serotonergic drugs as a means than remarkable. The impact of his discoveries on to evaluate brain serotonergic function in humans” at © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CINP. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact email@example.com Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article-abstract/21/1/1/4816881 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 2 | International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2018 the International Symposium on Serotonin (so-called but incorporating new tools, soft-spoken but strong Serotonin Club) in Florence in 1989. We discussed my willed, non-directive but supportive, collaborative but work with the serotonin receptor-1A partial agonist also protective.” From this unique way particularly ipsapirone and a few months later he had arranged the Würzburg connection comprising Dietmar Bengel, for me to join his laboratory as a Fogarthy Research Armin Heils, Jens Wendland and myself benefited Fellow. When I arrived in Bethesda on a wintry and greatly, thus maintaining a remarkably productive col- snow-white day in late April 1990, Dennis and Nancy laboration during more than two decades. put me up in their home in Potomac for the first week Although Dennis was a biological psychiatrist with supreme hospitality. Already on the next day and neuropsychopharmacologist, our extensive dis- after my arrival he took me on a hike on the Billy Goat cussions lead to the conclusion that investigation Trail, an amazing wilderness area along the Potomac of the neurobiologic foundation of psychiatric dis- River close to his home. During this exhausting exer - ease would require molecular biologic and genetic cise, I got to know Dennis not only as a passionate approaches. Owing to his broad-mindedness, he researcher and magnificent teacher but also as an without hesitation supported my training in molecu- avid hiker. Over the next years, we continued hiking lar biologic techniques, so-called Track Courses tak- in many places, including the mountains of Santa Fe, ing place in the “Cloisters” on NIH research campus New Mexico, the deserts around Tucson, Arizona, and during my first year. Although I had merely clinical the island of Rhodes, Greece. Numerous also were our education as a psychiatrist, he encouraged my curi- tennis matches, either locally in the neighborhood or osity and it was one of the most rewarding experi- on the NIH campus or whenever we met in remote ences in my scientific life starting to run PCRs and places of the world. The tennis racket was always our clone stretches of DNA together with Ben Wolozin travel companion – and traveling around the globe in his lab. This work eventually led to my discovery was our favorite pastime, if not together, then at least of the polymorphism in the serotonin transporter sharing our best photographs. (5-HTT) gene, widely known as 5-HTTLPR and the Throughout his scientific life, Dennis put most of generation of the 5-HTT knockout mouse. Dennis’ his efforts on a better understanding of obsessive- networking abilities allowed both of us to investigate compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders with a this mouse model at all levels of complexity, resulting strong emphasis on the role of the brain serotonin in numerous unexpected findings that further stimu- system in their pathophysiology and therapeutic lated scientific scrutiny also in other medical fields. response. This brought his attention to the enzyme This process of discovery at the core of his legacy is monoamine oxidase A, and later, the serotonin trans- still ongoing in several laboratories around the globe. porter. He was one of the first to propagate sero- Despite considerable attention from the science com- tonin reuptake inhibitors as a treatment of choice munity, Dennis was never seeking public attention or in obsessive-compulsive disorder. His mentoring prominence. His modesty and humbleness were my abilities gave critical impulses to the achievements guideline throughout my own career. of numerous coworkers and collaborators, includ- Dennis exemplified a researcher’s life well lived, and, ing Josi Zohar, Tom Insel, Chawki Benkelfat, György while he will be truly missed, he leaves behind a legacy Bagdi, Ben Greenberg, Benedetto Vitiello and Andrew for us all who were deeply influenced by him. Thank Holmes, to mention only my contemporaries. you, Dennis, for being our hero in science and in life. In the words of these colleagues: “Dennis was an K.P. LESCH, MD eminent trail blazer of biological psychiatry,” “Dennis Clinical Research Unit on Disorders of Neurodevelopment was one of the greats of a greatest generation of bio- and Cognition Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience logical psychiatrists,” “Dennis was a giant in our Center of Mental Health field and a wonderful human being,” “He was a most University of Wuerzburg creative and successful scientist for many decades. He Fuechsleinstr. 15 97080 Wuerzburg, Germany was very kind and considerate, always, a gentleman Phone: +49-931-201 77600 / 77610 and a scholar,” “Dennis was devoted to excellence, but Fax: +49-931-201 77620 never at the expense of decency,” and about his “nur - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.molecularpsychiatry.ukw.de turing of scores of trainees with the same style: careful Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article-abstract/21/1/1/4816881 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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