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July 1999

Louis Jolyon West, MD (1924-1999)

Author Affiliations

Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56(7):669-670. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.56.7.669

On January 2, 1999, Louis Jolyon ("Jolly") West, former chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), died of a rapidly advancing malignant tumor.

Born in 1924 in Brooklyn, NY, of immigrant Russian-Jewish parents, he grew up in poverty in Madison, Wis. Characteristic of children of recent immigrants, he strove to obtain an education. Entering the University of Wisconsin, Madison, at the age of 17 years, he was determined to fight against fascism in World War II. He enlisted in the US Army and was sent to the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in the Army Specialized Training Program, and then to the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, from which he graduated in 1948. After a year of internship in internal medicine, he served a 3-year residency in psychiatry at the Payne Whitney Clinic at New York Hospital–Cornell University School of Medicine, New York, NY. In 1948, he had transferred to the US Air Force Medical Corps, and in 1952 he was appointed as chief of the Psychiatry Service at the Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Tex. While holding this position, he was also appointed professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry, Neurology and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine in Oklahoma City—the youngest person ever to have held a chairship in psychiatry in the United States until, or since, that time. In 1969, he moved to UCLA to head its department and direct the Neuropsychiatric Institute.

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