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APA Presidential Addresses   |    
Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D., 136th President, 2009–2010
David J. Kupfer, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2010;167:1170-1171. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.167.10.1170
View Author and Article Information

Presented at the 163rd Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, New Orleans, May 22-26, 2010. Dr. Kupfer is Chair of the DSM-5 Task Force and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Kupfer, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 3811 O'Hara Street, Room 210, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; kupferdj@upmc.edu (e-mail).

Copyright © American Psychiatric Association

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When I began to make some notes about how I wanted to introduce Alan at the 163rd Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, I wrote "compleat physician," C-O-M-P-L-E-A-T, which led me to wonder why I had spelled complete that way and whether there is actually a difference between complete and compleat.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, compleat is an archaic spelling, with only one remaining meaning in modern English: "fully accomplished; consummate." And, indeed, for the last year, the American Psychiatric Association has been privileged to have as its President, an accomplished physician and a consummate leader.

Alan F. Schatzberg, the son of one physician and the brother of another, never really considered any other career. After completing undergraduate studies and medical studies at New York University, he did his psychiatric residency at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center from 1969 to 1972 and was Chief Resident, Southard Clinic, in 1971—1972.

After military service in the United States Air Force, as part of a social actions assistance team at the Pentagon, Alan joined the staff at McLean Hospital and the Faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1974. At McLean, he held a number of important positions, including Interim Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Co-Director of the Affective Disorders Program (with Jonathan Cole) and Director of the Depression Research Facility. In 1988, he became Clinical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School but continued his research program on the biology and treatment of depression at McLean. While working at Mass Mental, he met a nurse by the name of Nancy Silverman, whom he married at her family summer home in Rockport in 1972. Their daughter, Melissa, came along in 1975, and her younger sister, Lindsey, was born in 1978 while Alan was building a national and international reputation as a mood disorders researcher.

In 1991, Dr. Schatzberg moved to Stanford University to become the Kenneth T. Norris, Jr., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Throughout his chairmanship, Alan has remained an active investigator in the biology and psychopharmacology of depressive disorders, conducting research that has given us important insights into the biological mechanisms underlying both psychotic and nonpsychotic depression. A prolific writer and editor, he has authored over 600 publications and is one of three co-authors of the invaluable Manual of Clinical Psychopharmacology, published by APPI Press. In addition, Alan is a superb teacher and committed mentor of young people. This is a role in which I have had the pleasure of directly observing his exceptional gifts. For the last 7 years, he and I have served as co-directors of a Career Development Institute, jointly sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford, which seeks to provide advanced postdoctoral students and junior faculty in all areas of psychiatry with the information and skills they will need to succeed as academic researchers in our field. In the context of our Career Development Institute, I have seen Alan's unique capacity for providing specific and meaningful advice, encouragement, and truly constructive criticism that has made a clear difference in the career trajectories of many of our Career Development Institute attendees. Alan is also a gifted clinician. This too I know from personal experience, having referred to him some of the most challenging cases I have ever heard about and then seen his capacity to treat the whole person, while also managing all the complex family dynamics that typically swirl around such difficult-to-treat conditions.

I often think of Alan as a "stealth leader," a man with a quiet, unassuming manner, who almost never calls attention to himself and, indeed, can be rather ironically self-deprecating, but who nonetheless gradually comes to command respect in almost any group in which he participates. Then, before you know it, he's in charge. And you're very happy about it!

Alan told us he had four priorities for his presidential year. The first priority was to restore pride in our profession, and Alan has tirelessly worked, both by example and by a variety of levels of communication, to make us proud to be psychiatrists. His priority for improving the Annual Meeting is clearly already apparent in the sessions that many of you had the opportunity of attending throughout the exciting week of our meeting. He is working hard with others to ensure that we have an appropriate, responsible, and positive level of communication and interaction with industry. With respect to his fourth goal, Alan oversaw a reorganization of the governance structure of the APA that has led to a leaner, more responsive organization with substantially greater financial viability that will enable it to carry forward its critical and multi-faceted mission.

Alan can leave his presidential year with a tremendous sense of accomplishment—one in which we can all take pride.

Finally, I want to say just a few words about Alan, the man. Going back as far as 1983, when Alan, Nancy, and their little girls came to a birthday party I was giving for my wife, Ellen, in Vienna, I have only the most positive impressions of Alan as husband, father, and sibling. At that birthday party, a tiny Lindsey had brought an even tinier glass snowball containing the Ferris wheel from Vienna's great park, the Prater. At the last moment, she became distraught at the idea of having to give up what seemed to her to be a magical object. Alan insisted, but then spent the next 10 minutes gently consoling his little daughter before joining the festivities. Nancy and Alan have both had more than their share of health scares, but these were always handled with the greatest equanimity—so that it often seemed that they were the ones reassuring their friends, rather than vice versa. Lots of grandmothers I know carry around their grandchildren's pictures, but Alan might be the only man I know who, at the slightest provocation, will show you iPhone photos of his 2 year-old granddaughter, Charlotte, holding her twin baby sisters, Lilly and Emilia. Despite all the demanding roles that Alan has taken on professionally, he has consistently found that balance of life priorities that so often eludes leaders: as a husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, he manages to be fully present whenever he is with you.

So it is with great pleasure and gratitude for all he has done for our field and for each of us, personally, that I present Alan F. Schatzberg, compleat physician, compleat President, compleat human being.

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