In this issue

Tributes to Bruce J. Rounsaville, MD

Dr. Rounsaville made a marked impact on the field of psychopharmacology and substance abuse research and paved the way for many future scientists.

Tribute by Nancy Petry, PhD

The substance abuse field lost a renowned leader on January 9, 2011, and many of us lost an exceptional mentor and friend. Bruce Rounsaville, MD, passed away suddenly while exercising at the Yale pool.

Bruce had a very distinguished career. With the exception of his medical school training at the University of Maryland, he spent his entire career, including his undergraduate training, medical residency and fellowship, at Yale. Immediately after completing his fellowship, Bruce joined the Yale faculty. There, he served as Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Veteran’s Administration Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center. He also directed the Psychotherapy Development Center (PDC) and Clinical Scientist Training Program in Substance Abuse, both supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Many psychologists considered Bruce to be the quintessential psychiatrist, and he was best known for his work on psychotherapies for substance use disorders. Some of his initial research led to the emergence of one of the first empirically validated psychotherapies, interpersonal therapy, and he was among the first to combine medications with psychotherapies for treating substance use disorders. Bruce’s seminal paper on the stages of psychotherapy development has been widely cited and led to a systematic manner for designing and empirically evaluating psychotherapies.

Bruce served in a number of national advisory roles. He was a member of the work group that revised the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, revision III, and its subsequent updates, and he was a member and chair of the NIDA Treatment Research subcommittee (NIDA-E). Many Division 28 members served on this committee, and we will always remember Bruce for his insights and extraordinary sense of humor during the meetings. Bruce was also intricately involved with the development and growth of the Division of Substance Abuse Research at Yale, which was ranked by US News and World Report as a top drug and alcohol abuse training program in the country. In large part, this was due to Bruce’s leadership and strong mentoring abilities. Hundreds of graduate, post- graduate, and junior (as well as senior) faculty have been aided by his mentoring, including myself.

I first met Bruce in 1997, soon after I joined the faculty of UCONN Heath Center. He welcomed me to his PDC meetings, which were always filled with laughter. My work flourished in large part because of Bruce. He had an uncanny ability to critique and improve any experimental design, and to counter every critique made by a reviewer. He also knew the politics of science better than anyone; if there were a way out, or a backdoor to getting something done, Bruce would quickly find it. And the world was a far better place for it.

Bruce will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues. I am also certain that the next generation of substance abuse treatment researchers, without having ever met him, will benefit from what he left us.

Tribute by Kathleen Carroll, PhD

Bruce’s generosity as a scholar, mentor, colleague, and fierce friend was extraordinary. Everyone in our group at the Division of Substance Use at Yale, and many more throughout the field, has at least one story of how Bruce gently swooped in and tinkered a grant, transformed a paper, or saved a career. He gave richly of his wise counsel, irreverent humor, lightning wit, and infinite trove of uncanny scientific anecdotes. Among his many gifts was his ability to keep a diverse, challenging group of academic stars and starlings glued tightly together for so many years, most often by making us see and learn from each others’ strengths. His personal life was just as rich, and he delighted in sharing his love for gardening, cooking, tennis, swimming, music, and his family. He was greatly loved and is greatly missed.

Editor’s note

Dr. Rounsaville made a marked impact on the field of psychopharmacology and substance abuse research and paved the way for many future scientists. Below are a few of his most highly cited papers to demonstrate the breadth and duration of his influence on the field. A link to a full Pubmed listing of his citations is also provided. We are greatly indebted to his numerous contributions.

  • Heterogeneity of psychiatric diagnoses in treated opiate addicts. (1982). Rounsaville, B.J., Weissman, M.M., Kleber, H., & Wilber, C. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol.39 (2), pp 161-168.
  • Prognostic significance of psychopathology in treated opiate addicts. A 2.5-year follow-up study. (1986). Rounsaville, B.J., Kosten, T.R., Wiessman, M.M., & Kleber, H.D. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 43 (8), pp 739-745.
  • Psychopathology as a predictor of treatment outcome in alcoholics. (1987). Rounsaville, B.J., Dolinsky, Z.S., Babor, T.F., & Meyer, R.E. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 44 (6), pp 505-513.
  • Psychiatric diagnoses of treatment-seeking cocaine abusers. (1991). Rounsaville, B.J., Anton, S.F., Carroll, K., Budde, D., Prusoff, B.A., & Gawin, F. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 48 (1), pp 43-51.

Full list of articles available at Pubmed.

Gifts in memory of Dr. Bruce Rounsaville will support a fund in his name. Donations can be made to Yale University and sent to:
Zsuzsanna Somogyi
Office of Development
Yale School of Medicine PO Box 7611
New Haven, CT 06519-0611