IN MEMORIAM: PROFESSOR BRIAN LEONARD (1936-2023)
We were very sorry to learn of the death of Professor Brian Leonard on 27th December 2023, following a short illness. Brian was a past President of CINP (2004 – 2006), a former winner of the Arvid Carlsson medal for education (2012) and his influence on both teaching and research in the field of Psychopharmacology spanned more than 50 years.
Following a primary degree and subsequent PhD at the University of Birmingham, Brian took up a position as Lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Nottingham from 1962 to 1968. After a short spell in industry, Brian became the founding Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Galway in 1974, where he remained for 25 years until his retirement in 1999. In subsequent years, whilst retaining his Emeritus status in Galway, Brian held a Visiting Professorship at the University of Maastricht and an Honorary Professorship at Ludwig Maxmillian University, Munich.
Professor Leonard was perhaps best-known for his pioneering research in (1) development and characterisation of animal models of depression (most notably the Olfactory Bulbectomy model), (2) preclinical investigation of the pharmacology of antidepressants, anxiolytics, and other psychotropic drugs, (3) biomarkers of major psychiatric disorders, (4) the metabolic syndrome in depression and schizophrenia, and (5) psychoneuroimmunology, where he was one of the first in the world to recognise, investigate, and promote the importance of the brain-immune axis in depression and schizophrenia. He published a number of respected textbooks, including Fundamentals of Psychopharmacology, and Fundamentals of Psychoneuroimmunology as well as over 400 peer reviewed publications in international journals.
As well as his Presidency of CINP, Brian held many leadership positions in, and won many awards from, national and international societies. He was President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) from 1986-1988 and received their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He also served as President of the Society for the Investigation of Stress from 1998-2000 and Deputy Chairman of the Lundbeck Institute for Neuropsychiatric Research from 2004-201.
Throughout his life, Brian was passionate advocate for social justice and was committed to global education throughout his career, traveling to under-developed countries to educate and inspire. He fostered a wonderful culture of teamwork and camaraderie among his researchers, and encouraged his research students to undertake had a very extensive network of collaborators and contacts all over the globe, and many of his research students benefited greatly from research placements that he organised in these international laboratories.
His enormous influence is illustrated by the many entries in this online book of condolences, many of which speak of his wicked sense of humour and of his love of the rugged Irish countryside, his dogs and the arts. A service for Brian took place on January 12th in Galway at which he was fondly remembered. Our sincere condolences go to Brian’s wife Helga, his daughters Ingrid and Heide, and to his grandchildren, extended family, neighbours and friends.