Larry J. Siever, MD, a pioneer in the study of personality disorders and a longtime leader in the Mount Sinai Department of Psychiatry and James J Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), has passed away after a long illness.
Larry’s work provided the scaffolding for a new way of thinking about personality disorders and has been internationally recognized for decades. His work led to the reconceptualization of personality disorders and, arguably, the elimination of a distinction between Axis I and Axis II in DSM-5. He published more than 350 peer-reviewed papers in work acknowledged by numerous awards, including being named “Presidential Scholar” and an award “In recognition of distinguished and pioneering contributions to the study of personality disorders” at the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders in 2011.
Larry held many leadership positions, including Director of the Mood and Personality Disorders Program at Mount Sinai, Director of the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC) at the James J Peters VAMC, Past President of the Society of Biological Psychiatry and Fellow of the ACNP. As the founding director of the Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) 3 MIRECC, he was instrumental in bringing psychiatric research into the VA. His ideas inspired a generation of investigators who continue study of the neurobiology of personality disorders. Larry always paired his excellence in his own work with a passion for fostering the careers of young mentees. Indeed, he described one of the reasons he became most interested in borderline personality disorder was because it drew into his lab excitement from trainees. Through Larry’s leadership in training post-doctoral fellows, he inspired and guided more than 30 trainees, including many who are leaders in the field. These include Emil Coccaro, Antonia New, Harold Koenigsberg, Marianne Goodman, Erin Hazlett, Philip D. Harvey, Jeremy Silverman, Margaret McNamara, Panos Roussos and Mercedes Perez.
Though research, education and mentorship were ever at the core of Larry’s life’s work, there is much else to acknowledge. For those of good fortune to cross paths with Larry, an enduring colleague and lifelong friend was readily found. A gentleman scientist, Larry was brilliant, humble and generous, relentlessly curious, collaborative, and remarkably free of rivalry. A devoted, deeply decent and kind physician, he embraced the opportunity to also bring science to the clinics in which he directly rendered care. He was ever and sincerely interested in the work and ideas of others often imparting his wisdom even in casual conversation. His rigorous intellect was so formidable as to fathom ideas of merit regardless of their provenance; students, mentees and colleagues flourished in his proximity. Possibly veiled on first meeting, once discovered, his deeply humorous nature was never lost sight of, was itself renowned, endlessly enriching any interval in his company.
Professor, scientist, teacher, mentor, colleague and friend, Larry will be dearly missed.
Larry is survived by Lissa Weinstein, his wife of 31 years, and his two sons David and Daniel. We extend heartfelt condolences to them.
Kenneth L. Davis, MD
René S. Kahn, MD, PhD
Antonia New, MD
Andrew Aronson, MD
For the Mount Sinai Health System Department of Psychiatry
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Davis, K.L., Kahn, R.S., New, A. et al. In memoriam-Larry J. Siever, M.D. Neuropsychopharmacol. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-00999-3