Irvine, Calif., September 28, 1995
William Bunney Jr., distinguished professor and former chair of psychiatry and human behavior, has been named to the Della Martin Chair of Psychiatry. Bunney is renowned for his research exploring the fundamental role of neurotransmitters in the major psychoses, particularly manic-depressive illness and schizophrenia.
"Dr. Bunney is one of the most prominent international figures in the field of biological psychiatry and, as such, he has played a pivotal role in establishing the excellence of UCI's research programs in neuroscience and mental illness," said Chancellor Laurel Wilkening.
From 1977-1982, Bunney served as chief of biological psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health. During those years, he conducted studies that helped establish the efficacy of lithium carbonate as a treatment for manic depressive disorder. He was also involved in suicide prevention research, and was for three years the director of the U.S. Drug Abuse Program.
Bunney is the author or co-author of more than 300 frequently cited scientific papers, including the seminal work "Norepinephrine in depressive reactions," a review article listed as a citation classic which has provided the theory and impetus for hundreds of subsequent research projects seeking the biological etiology and potential pharmacological treatments for major depressive diseases.
"When Dr. Bunney arrived at UCI in 1982, we had no peer reviewed research in psychiatry, no training grants, no clinical research wards," said Thomas Cesario, dean of the College of Medicine. "It was largely through his efforts, that we were able to recruit the faculty and obtain the federal funding and community support that built the research facilities and outstanding neuropsychiatric programs in neuroscience we see here today."
While chair of UCI's department of psychiatry and human behavior, Bunney helped establish the Brain Imaging Center and three clinical research wards. He became the first UCI faculty member to be elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Bunney maintains active roles on the scientific advisory boards of the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and the World Health Organization and was elected president of both the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum. He received UCI's Distinguished Lauds and Laurels Research award in 1991.
Most recently he co-authored a series of research reports providing evidence for the significance of early defective brain cell growth patterns during development in schizophrenia, the most severe mental illness.
The Della Martin Chair in Psychiatry was established in 1988 along with an endowment of $500,000 for the study of mental illness. Martin, the sister and heir of county aviation pioneer Glenn Martin, was a psychiatric patient who spent most of her adult life in institutional care. Her last years were devoted to the pursuit of a cure for mental illness, including the establishment of a foundation to perpetuate that interest after her death in 1974. The Della Martin Foundation also has endowed chairs for mental illness research at UCLA and USC.
"I accept this appointment with pride," Bunney said, "and with the anticipation that this funding will not only help increase our basic knowledge of the neuropsychiatric disease process but will contribute to the fundamental understanding of the functioning of the human brain."