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December 1998

Arthur S. Kling, MD, 1929-1997

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55(12):1144. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.55.12.1144

Arthur (Art) S. Kling, MD, died March 27, 1997, in Los Angeles, Calif. Until moments before his death, he remained active, directing the Department of Psychiatry at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration Medical Center, participating in research at Sepulveda and the University of California Los Angeles Brain Research Institute, and teaching students and trainees.

Art was graduated from the University of Utrecht Medical School, Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1956 and served on the faculties of the Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, Ill, and the University of Illinois, Chicago, until he took a position at Rutgers Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ, in 1968, where he remained until 1980. He then moved to Los Angeles to become chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration Medical Center and vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles. He became a member of the Brain Research Institute in 1981.

As a teacher, he used a hands-on approach, taking students and colleagues to inpatient wards and research laboratories. As an administrator, he took a no-nonsense approach to his work. While he assumed ever-increasing teaching and administrative responsibilities over his career, it was research that he loved most and to which he devoted much of his time. His early laboratory work, which was done in collaboration with Jules Masserman, MD, focused on the role of limbic structures, the amygdala most specifically, and on sexuality and aggression in human beings and nonhuman primates. He later conducted studies of temporal lobe ablations in nonhuman primates along with investigations of the ontogenetic development of the brain. He was responsible for a host of new and previously unsuspected findings, particularly in the area of brain-function relationships. Publications in Nature and Science followed.

By the mid 1970s, his interests turned to endocrinology and interactions among hormones, neurochemicals, and social behavior; the value of ablation studies was fading as new research techniques gained center stage in psychiatry. In these 2 decades, his work addressed the details of brain structure, social cognition, behavior, and the chemical makeup and function of different parts of the brain. His publications in Biological Psychiatry, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Synapse, American Journal of Primatology, Human Genetics, and Journal of Psychiatric Research document this period.

From the early l970s until his death, he was also involved in nonhuman primate fieldwork in Africa, St Kitts, Puerto Rico, and on islands off the coast of South Carolina. Along the way, he helped establish laboratories at Rutgers Medical School, the University of California Los Angeles, and the Sepulveda Veterans Administration Medical Center. Time and again, he was the first to develop new research methods, to publish critical findings, to explore new concepts, and to open new research areas.

Throughout his career, he was an exceedingly decent human being, a close and trusted friend with his colleagues and students, and a man of integrity. Psychiatry bids farewell to one of its most innovative members.