Mental Health

February 28, 2022

VUMC mourns loss of former Psychopharmacology director Ban

Thomas Arthur Ban, MD, emeritus professor of Psychiatry and former director of Vanderbilt’s Division of Psychopharmacology, died Feb. 4. He was 92.


by Kathy Whitney

Thomas Arthur Ban, MD

Thomas Arthur Ban, MD, emeritus professor of Psychiatry, died Feb. 4. He was 92.

Dr. Ban was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1929. He earned his medical degree from Semmelweis University in 1954 and his Diploma in Psychiatry with Distinction from McGill University, Montreal in 1960.

Dr. Ban was on faculty at McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry from 1960-1976 at which time he joined Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s faculty as a professor of Psychiatry. He served as director of the Clinical Research Service, Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute from 1976 to 1983, and as director of Vanderbilt’s Division of Psychopharmacology in the Department of Psychiatry from 1983 to 1995. He was named to the emeritus faculty in 1995.

At Vanderbilt, Dr. Ban continued his involvement with international neuropsychopharmacology work begun at McGill. This culminated in his appointment as consultant in the WHO Division of Mental Health in Geneva for two years in the early 1980s.

During his career, Dr. Ban published several books including Conditioning and Psychiatry (Aldine 1964), Experimental Approaches to  Psychiatric Diagnosis  (Charles C. Thomas, 1971), Psychopharmacology (Williams and Wilkins, 1969), Prolegomenon to the Clinical Prerequisite (Pergamon Press, 1987), Composite Diagnostic Evaluation (CODE) system for psychiatric disorders (JM Productions, 1989), The History of Psychopharmacology and the CINP, As Told in Autobiography (edited with David Healy and Edward Shorter; Animula, 1998-2004), and  An  Oral  History of  Neuropsychopharmacology (American College of  Neuropsychopharmacology,  2011) and other  related volumes.

He received many awards, among them the Paul Hoch Distinguished Service Award of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) in 2003. In 2013, he was the founding editor of the International Network for the History of Neuropsychopharmacology (INHN) which, in December 2021, published his final coauthored book, Lithium in Psychiatry in Historical Perspective.

“My friendship with Tom began within a very short time after I arrived at Vanderbilt, in 1986,” said Dr. Ban’s long-time friend and colleague Peter Martin, MD, MSc, professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences and Pharmacology. “We would often sit for hours or go for long walks and talk about many things, especially his vision of psychiatry. I soon realized how magnificent, agile and orderly a mind he possessed. It was apparent that he could expound at length on most any area of psychiatry raised for discussion — he had been there before, had thought about it deeply and probably had published a paper or  two, or  even  a book, on the topic.”

Dr. Ban is survived by his wife, Joan, and son Christopher.