A pioneer in psychiatry

Dr. Frank J. Ayd Jr., a Baltimore psychiatrist who pioneered the field of psychopharmacology when he began treating schizophrenics with Thorazine in the early 1950s, died in his sleep Monday at Lorien Mays Chapel Health Care Center. He was 87.

At a time when the psychiatric establishment rejected the notion that mental illness was rooted in biology, Dr. Ayd championed the use of medications to adjust brain chemistry and, in so doing, relieve a patient's suffering.

"He was a biological psychiatrist, one of the important kinds of people who in spite of - and against - the establishment had the guts to stand up and really do things," said Dr. Thomas Ban, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

"Many people claim pioneering, but he really was. He entered the field when the whole thing started."

Dr. Philip G. Janicak, a Chicago psychiatrist and editor of International Drug Therapy Newsletter, said, "Dr. Ayd was one of the founding fathers of modern psychiatry. He changed the direction of psychiatry."

Dr. Janicak added: "He saw the potential value of medications to treat serious psychiatric disorders."

Born in Baltimore and raised near Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Ayd was the son of a pediatrician and grandson of a pharmacist.

His interest in a medical career began in his youth. He delivered prescriptions by bicycle for his grandfather and worked in his father's office, organizing medical files.

He was also influenced by a family friend, Dr. Louis A.M. Krause, an internist. "I learned a lot from him about what the attitude of a doctor should be," Dr. Ayd said in a 2003 interview with the University of Maryland School of Medicine alumni bulletin. "Physicians are servants of the sick."

Dr. Ayd was a 1938 graduate of Loyola High School and earned his bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1942.

He entered the University of Maryland medical school in 1942, and was halfway through a residency in pediatrics when the Navy called him to active duty in 1943. He graduated from medical school in 1945.

"He served in the Navy and attended medical school at the same time," said a daughter, Teresa A. Knott of Towson.

His first assignment was Bethesda Naval Hospital, then he was transferred to the Naval Hospital in Bainbridge, and later to the U.S. Veterans Hospital in Perry Point.

"Perry Point predominantly had people who had been sick for years and years. I had patients from the Spanish-American War through World War II," Dr. Ayd said in a 2005 interview in Psychiatric Times.

"Some had been at the hospital 20, 40, 60 years. Many [clinicians] used to say 'All ye who enter here should abandon hope' because we didn't have effective treatments for them [the mentally ill] in those days," he said.

In 1948, Dr. Ayd completed a two-year residency in psychiatry at Perry Point.

His patients included those who were unable to experience pain or distinguish hot from cold, who heard voices and those who were engulfed by hallucinations or were violent.

In an era that favored psychoanalysis and electroconvulsive therapy, Dr. Ayd began experimenting with drugs to treat psychiatric patients.

In 1950, Dr. Ayd went into private practice and, three years later, drug maker Smith Kline & French asked if he'd be interested in evaluating Thorazine, an antipsychotic medication, for patients who suffered from delusions.

Dr. Ayd said in the University of Maryland interview that the results after administering Thorazine were "so dramatic it was unbelievable what could be done with that drug." Patients were calmed and their delusions somewhat faded.

Because of his success with Thorazine, Dr. Ayd received the first permit from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use the drug in the treatment of schizophrenia.

His accomplishments with the drug convinced him that it might work for other patients, and he studied various other drugs.

"I was sort of looked on as a renegade," Dr. Ayd said in the University of Maryland interview. "I was fresh out of medical school and working in a community dominated by psychoanalysis."

Dr. J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., director of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said Dr. Ayd was an original thinker and clinician.

"He was a truly amazing character and exactly the kind of person you'd want at a time when your ideas are out of favor," Dr. DePaulo said, adding:

"He was fearless and would say, 'Let's go. Let's not stop now.' He was not a laboratory researcher but a clinical pioneer."

In the 1950s, Dr. Ayd founded the International Drug Therapy Newsletter, the first - and for many years the only - publication to focus on the use of medications for psychiatric illness. There, Dr. Ayd documented not only the benefits of drugs for depression, schizophrenia and other ills but their numerous side effects, as well.

While pioneering the field of psychopharmacology, Dr. Ayd still saw value in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

"You are treating a human being, and you have to take into consideration the requirements of that human being," he explained in the interview with Psychiatric Times.

Dr. Ayd was a founder of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Nashville.

He was chief of psychiatry at Franklin Square Hospital from 1955 until 1962, when he left to lecture on psychopharmacotherapy in Europe.

From 1962 to 1965, he served as the first lay professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and hosted a weekly show, Religion and Science, on Vatican Radio.

After returning to his West Lake Avenue home, Dr. Ayd resumed his medical practice and was director of professional education and research at Taylor Manor Hospital in Ellicott City, from 1969 to 1986.

He retired in 2003.

Dr. Ayd was the author of Recognizing the Depressed Patient and wrote two editions of Ayd's Lexicon of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neuroscience.

He also contributed work to three editions of Principles and Practice of Psychopharmacotherapy.

Dr. Ayd was a longtime communicant of the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Mount Washington. In 2002, he was received into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, an ecclesiastical order of knighthood.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, 13305 Long Green Pike, Hydes.

Also surviving are his wife of 64 years, the former Rita Anne Corasaniti; five sons, Frank J. Ayd III of Parkville, Joseph M. Ayd of Towson, Thomas J. Ayd of Showell, Vincent J. Ayd of Cedarcroft and John J. Ayd of Timonium; six other daughters, Margaret A. Reid of Towson, Virginia Simpson of Umbria, Italy, Loretta M. Simpson of Hunt Valley, Martha Teitelbaum of Troutdale, Va., Christina Lears of Catonsville and Rita O'Brennan of Timonium; a brother, Robert J. Ayd of Parkville; two sisters, Jane Morales of York, Pa., and Regina Brockmeyer of Parkville; 32 grandchildren; and 38 great-grandchildren.


Sun reporter Jonathan Bor contributed to this article.

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