Lewis S Seiden, PhD, died Thursday July 26 in Chicago after more than a fifty year struggle with dystonia. Dr Seiden's death is an enormous loss to those who knew him as a pioneer in the fields of behavioral pharmacology and amphetamine neurotoxicology, and as a remarkable individual with profound wisdom and kindness. At the time of his death, Dr Seiden was Professor Emeritus of pharmacological and physiological sciences and of psychiatry at the University of Chicago.
Lew, as he preferred to be known, conducted seminal studies in a number of areas. His early studies with Arvid Carlsson were the first to demonstrate that the effect of reserpine on active avoidance behavior was antagonized by L-DOPA, providing one of the initial clues regarding the importance of dopamine in the neurobehavioral actions of reserpine. This observation, together with other results from his early work, led Lew to be one of the first to underscore the importance of considering mutual interactions among drugs, brain chemistry, and behavior when seeking to understand psychoactive drug action. Lew also did pioneering studies on the neurotoxic potential of methamphetamine and related drugs, and in a separate, very productive line of research, Lew demonstrated that performance under a differential-reinforcement-of-low-rates (DRL)-72-s operant schedule was useful for identifying and understanding antidepressant drug action.
In addition to being an outstanding investigator, Lew was a superb teacher and mentor. He trained more than 30 pre- and postdoctoral students. His students knew him as someone who was always available, eager to discuss data and, invariably, view results from novel perspectives.
Lew was born on August 1, 1934, on Chicago's south side. After only two years of high school, he was granted early admission and a coveted full-tuition scholarship to the University of Chicago, his home for the next 60 years. Lew earned a BA in liberal arts in 1956, a BS in biology in 1958 and a PhD in biopsychology in 1962. After doing postdoctoral research with Arvid Carlsson at the University of Goteborg and Keith Killam at Stanford, he returned to the University of Chicago in 1965, where he joined the Departments of Pharmacology and Physiology as well as Psychiatry.
Despite all of his accomplishments, Lew was a remarkably humble man. He always had a kind word for others, knew the cleaning crew and security detail on campus by name, and had the ability to find a topic of mutual interest with any and all. Those who were fortunate enough to have interacted with Lew will remember his uncanny sense of humor.
Lew's long battle with dystonia did not prevent him from living life to the fullest. Early in his career, he spent considerable time personally conducting bench-work research. Later, he directed and taught a popular course in psychopharmacology, sailed on Lake Michigan, and loved spending time at his Michigan farm. A prolific writer, Lew published more that 200 scientific papers, 40 book chapters and wrote a textbook with Linda Dykstra entitled, Psychopharmacology: A Behavioral and Biochemical Approach, which remains one of the best in the field.
Lew's work received national and international recognition. He served on the President's Advisory Committee on Mental Health, the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, and the Life Sciences Working Group for NASA. He was elected President of the APA (Division 28) and President of the Behavioral Pharmacology Society. Lew was a specific field editor for the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and a Fellow of the AAAS, ACNP and APA. In 1999, he received an honorary doctorate in medicine from the University of Goteborg, Sweden. In 2002, Lew received the prestigious University of Chicago's Gold Key Award for his exemplary service to the University.
Lew is survived by his wife, Anne Seiden, MD; his three children Alex Seiden, VES, Evelyn Ivey, DVM and Sam Seiden, MD; and one grandson, Lewis George Seiden.
In memory of Lew, donations may be made to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, http://www.dystonia-foundation.org, One East Wacker Drive, Suite 2430, Chicago, IL 60601-1905, USA.
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Ricaurte, G. Dr Lewis S Seiden, 1934–2007. Neuropsychopharmacol 33, 463–464 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.npp.1301595