Author: Bruce Hershfield, M.D.
Publication Year: 2006
Edition Winter 2006; Vol. 33, No. 1; Pg 3-5
On April 27, 2006, eighty-five members and guests attended the MPS Annual Meeting at the Hunt Valley Golf Club in Phoenix. After a cocktail reception during which we listened to the Silverbacks (including MPS member Donn Teubner-Rhodes on the flute), we were welcomed by MPS President Joseph Schwartz. Then, on behalf of the Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, Dr. Jonas Rappeport gave its Outstanding Merit Award to Mr. Edgar K. Wiggins. Among his other achievements, Mr. Wiggins has been involved in about 40 shows concerning mental health issues that have aired on MPTV and Baltimore County cable. He has been particularly effective in getting people to “tell their stories” on-camera, which has promoted awareness of psychiatric issues and has advanced our efforts to destigmatize psychiatric disorders.
After Dr. Schwartz thanked the members of the MPS Council and gave certificates to the committee chairpersons, he turned the Presidency over to William Prescott, MD, commenting, “You have got a great President.” Dr. Prescott praised his predecessors and Dr. Sharfstein, the APA President, and pledged to “confront challenges to physician ownership in the mental health field.” He made it clear that he wants the MPS to cooperate with NAMI, the Suburban Maryland Psychiatric Society, and the APA, and he reached out to those psychiatrists who are not yet MPS members, stating that he wants them to join us.
Dr. Prescott then awarded the MPS 2006 Lifetime of Service Award to Leon A. Levin, MD, praising his commitment to community psychiatry. Dr. Levin, who initiated “People Encouraging People” and who was Medical Director of the Walter P. Carter Center, has worked extensively on issues of confidentiality and on behalf of the community mental health centers and to destigmatize the community’s attitudes concerning psychiatric patients.
Dr. Levin, who served as MPS President in 1982-83, began by saying that participating on MPS committees has been “no burden, but a privilege” and that “sharing my efforts with colleagues has been a pleasure.” Commenting that he came to Maryland over 40 years ago ”as a complete stranger”, he told us how important “making me a member of the family” was for him. He concluded by thanking his wife for “making it possible to go to all those meetings guilt-free.”
It was then time for Solomon H. Snyder, MD, who developed and who has directed the Johns Hopkins Department of Neuroscience, to speak about “Psychiatry in the 21st Century”. Dr. Snyder, the author of more than 1000 journal articles and several books, has won the National Medal of Science and the Lasker Award. Pointing out that only three neurotransmitters were known when he was in medical school and that about 100 are known now, he told us that drug development had not changed much in-between the introduction of Dilantin in 1938 and the “revolution” that started in 1973, when Dr. Jerome Jaffe became “Drug Czar” and created drug abuse research centers.
“Where are we going now?” he asked, as we use a molecular biology approach and search for the genes that are responsible for psychiatric disorders. Research done by Dr. Stanley Fields in 1990 led us to understand how proteins bind to each other, Dr. Snyder explained. He went on to describe the effects of nitric oxide on blood vessels, on the brain, and on the immune system, emphasizing the importance of the discovery that nitric oxide stimulates COX-2 to make more prostaglandins. “We are getting closer to identifying genes for schizophrenia,” he said, commenting that DISC-1 disruption “may cause a lot of schizophrenia” and that it binds to cytoskeletal proteins. It also binds to PDE-4 and, when it does, it inactivates it.
“Drugs that regulate the binding of these two would make all sorts of things possible,” he told us. Genes and protein-protein binding will make it possible for us to make more and more powerful psychiatric agents,” he concluded.
With grateful appreciation to Dr. Levin for what he has done, an award honoring Mr. Wiggins for his efforts to explain to the community what we are doing, the transition of the Presidency from Dr. Schwartz to Dr. Prescott, and Dr. Snyder’s explanation of how understanding the nervous system can lead to an exciting future, we had a chance to see where we have come from, what we are trying to do, and where we can go from here.