Dr. Lewis L. Judd — headed UC San Diego psy­chi­a­try divi­sion

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - OBITUARIES LIFETRIBUTES - By Benedict Carey Benedict Carey is a New York Times writer.

Dr. Lewis L. Judd, who as the coun­try’s top men­tal health of­fi­cial helped put in place the Decade of the Brain, an am­bi­tious re­search agenda fo­cused on brain bi­ol­ogy as the key to un­der­stand­ing and treat­ing psy­chi­atric prob­lems, died Dec. 16 in San Diego. He was 88.

His death, at an as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­ity, was con­firmed by his wife, Pa­tri­cia Judd, a pro­fes­sor in the depart­ment of psy­chi­a­try at UC San Diego, of which Lewis Judd was chairman for decades. She said the cause was car­diac ar­rest.

Judd was one of a gen­er­a­tion of prom­i­nent psy­chi­a­trists who came to be­lieve that the work of Freud and Jung, on which they had trained, was more art than sci­ence. Bi­ol­ogy and ge­net­ics were the way for­ward, they ar­gued, and Judd was in the right place at the right time to help make that hap­pen.

In 1987, af­ter help­ing build the UC San Diego psy­chi­a­try depart­ment into a leader in re­search, he was cho­sen to take over the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health, the world’s largest source of fund­ing for brain and be­hav­ior re­search.

“At the re­quest of Congress,” Judd said in an in­ter­view af­ter start­ing the new job, “we have pre­pared the Decade of the Brain, a re­search plan de­signed to bring a pre­cise and de­tailed un­der­stand­ing of all the el­e­ments of brain func­tion within our own life­time.”

It hasn’t hap­pened. Despite bil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral fund­ing and ad­vances in tools — brain imag­ing, ge­net­ics, an­i­mal mod­els — the field has yet to de­liver much of prac­ti­cal value to psy­chi­a­trists or their pa­tients.

“The prob­lems of un­der­stand­ing the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­ogy turned out to be far deeper than any of us knew when we be­gan,” Richard Nakamura, a for­mer of­fi­cial at the men­tal health in­sti­tute who worked with Judd, said in a phone in­ter­view. But, he added, “I think Lew would take credit, jus­ti­fi­ably, for lay­ing the ground­work for the ad­vances that have been made, and for the work that is still to be ac­com­plished.”

Dr. Steven E. Hy­man, a later direc­tor of the in­sti­tute, said in an email that “the Decade had real value for morale and pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tion.” It also co­in­cided with the pub­li­ca­tion of the first Global Bur­den of Dis­ease re­port, Hy­man added, and to­gether the two ini­tia­tives “helped make a crit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion in ed­u­cat­ing pol­i­cy­mak­ers and the pub­lic about the pub­lic health bur­den of men­tal ill­ness.”

Other suc­ces­sors at the in­sti­tute, in­clud­ing Dr. Thomas R. Insel and the cur­rent leader, Dr. Joshua A. Gor­don, dou­bled down on Judd’s vi­sion, steer­ing the bulk of the fund­ing to brain bi­ol­ogy at the ex­pense of be­hav­ioral ap­proaches to men­tal health prob­lems like talk and fam­ily­based ther­a­pies.

Lewis Lund Judd was born in Los An­ge­les on Feb. 10, 1930, the first of two sons of Dr. Ge­orge Ezra Judd, an ob­ste­tri­cian-gy­ne­col­o­gist, and Em­me­line (Lund) Judd, a home­maker. His younger brother, Howard, also a doc­tor, died in 2007. Be­sides his wife, he is sur­vived by three daugh­ters — Stephanie Judd, a psy­chol­o­gist; Cather­ine Judd, a pro­fes­sor of English lit­er­a­ture at the Univer­sity of Mi­ami; and Al­li­son Fee, an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist — and five grand­chil­dren.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Har­vard School, a Los An­ge­les boys’ prep school (now part of the co­ed­u­ca­tional Har­vardWest­lake School), he en­tered the Univer­sity of Utah, where he com­pleted a de­gree in psy­chol­ogy in 1954. He stud­ied medicine at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity and at UCLA, fin­ish­ing his med­i­cal de­gree in 1958. He com­pleted his in­tern­ship and a res­i­dency in psy­chi­a­try at UCLA. Af­ter a stint in the Air Force as base psy­chi­a­trist at Griff­iss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y., he joined the UCLA psy­chi­a­try fac­ulty.

In 1970, Dr. Arnold J. Man­dell, the found­ing chairman of the psy­chi­a­try depart­ment at UC San Diego, re­cruited Judd. The two built the depart­ment from the ground up, mak­ing it one of the lead­ers in fed­eral re­search fund­ing. It was while con­sult­ing on an out­side pro­gram to help ado­les­cents with drug prob­lems that Judd met a social worker, Pa­tri­cia Hoff­man, whom he mar­ried.

Judd be­came depart­ment chairman in 1977 and, af­ter three years as head of the NIMH, re­turned. He re­mained there for 36 years and be­came a rec­og­niz­able pub­lic face in brain sci­ence. He also main­tained a small clin­i­cal prac­tice, spe­cial­iz­ing in treat­ing se­vere de­pres­sion.

When he re­tired as chairman in 2013, Judd was asked by a univer­sity press of­fi­cer about his legacy.

“The thing I’m most proud of is how psy­chi­a­try is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rec­og­nized as a real bio­med­i­cal sci­ence,” he replied. “It used to be dis­dained. A bro­ken mind wasn’t as real as a bro­ken bone. We li­on­ized phys­i­cal medicine, but dis­missed brain bi­ol­ogy, which has an enor­mous af­fect upon not just our be­hav­ior, but our bod­ies as well.”

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