Campus & Community

McLean Hospital mourns loss of revered researcher

4 min read

Philip Holzman, 82, pre-eminent researcher in schizophrenia

Holzman’s vision and ingenuity have left an indelible imprint on research in psychopathology. He founded an entire field of study central to the pathophysiology and genetic liability for schizophrenia.

Philip S. Holzman, founder and director of McLean Hospital’s Psychology Research Laboratory and one of the world’s pre-eminent scientists in schizophrenia research, died on June 1 at the age of 82.

Holzman began his career at McLean in 1977, focusing on the investigation of psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. He was an acknowledged master of the art of psychological experimentation. His landmark studies of oculomotor

Donations in Philip S. Holzman’s memory may be made to NARSAD, 60 Cutter Mill Road, Suite 404, Great Neck, NY 11021.

function documented the presence of abnormal smooth pursuit eye movements in individuals with schizophrenia and their clinically unaffected relatives. He appreciated early the value of studying unaffected family members, and discovered that both eye tracking dysfunction and thought disorder occurred frequently in the relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. With these discoveries, he founded an entire field of study central to the pathophysiology and genetic liability for schizophrenia. Holzman’s vision and ingenuity have left an indelible imprint on research in psychopathology and stretched the power of psychology paradigms.

Born in New York City, Holzman earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the City of New York and his doctoral degree from the University of Kansas. He trained at the Menninger Foundation School of Clinical Psychology and the Winter Veterans Administration Hospital in Topeka, Kansas, as well as at the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis. From 1946 to 1968 he was on the staff of the Menninger Foundation, where he also served as director of research training.

In 1968, Holzman joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he was a professor in the departments of psychology and psychiatry. In 1977 he founded the Psychology Research Laboratory at McLean Hospital and continued to lead the laboratory until the time of his death. He was the Esther and Sidney R. Rabb Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Holzman served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals and on the scientific advisory boards of numerous scientific organizations. He authored or co-authored several books and hundreds of original scientific publications.

Among his many accolades, Holzman was the recipient of the prestigious Lieber Prize from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). He also received the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for lifetime achievement in the field of psychology, the Stanley R. Dean Award from the American College of Psychiatrists, the William K. Warren Award from the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, and the Townsend Harris Medal of City College of New York. His most recent award was bestowed in 2002, when he was honored for exceptional research and mentoring by the American Psychological Foundation as the first recipient of the Alexander Gralnick Research Investigator Award. Typical of his generosity and profound commitment to research, he donated the $20,000 prize to the Psychology Research Laboratory to support its work.

Among his many professional honors, Holzman was a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Menninger Foundation. He served on the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Health Program of the John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of NARSAD.

“Dr. Holzman was a beloved friend and colleague, nurturing mentor, and intrepid researcher who enriched generations of scholars. His extraordinary vision, humor, relentless enthusiasm, and indomitable optimism inspired all of us who had the privilege of working with him. We will miss him terribly,” said Bruce M. Cohen, president and psychiatrist in chief for McLean Hospital.

“It is of some consolation to know that his many contributions to the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive neuroscience, including his love of teaching others, will serve as a lasting legacy to McLean and to the entire scientific community.”

Holzman is survived by Ann Holzman, his wife of 58 years; his children Natalie Bernardoni, Carl Holzman, and Paul Holzman; his son-in-law Gene Bernardoni; his daughter-in-law Mira Kopell; his grandchildren Joseph, Neena and Daniel; and his sister, Sylvia Steinbrock. A private memorial service will take place this Friday. A memorial service for the scientific community is planned for this fall.