Alexander H. Glassman, M.D.

Sandy GlassmanAlexander Glassman, M.D., professor of clinical psychiatry at P&S, died July 19, 2011. His career at NYSPI/Columbia spanned 41 years from August 1969 until December 2010, when he retired as chief of clinical psychopharmacology in the Division of Clinical Therapeutics.

Dr. Glassman was a leading authority on depression, cardiovascular disease, and antidepressant drugs, and his research has improved the standard of care for depressed patients. He showed that interindividual differences in metabolism of imipramine influenced clinical outcome and that delusional unipolar depression responded very poorly to antidepressant drugs alone. His work clarified the safe treatment of depressed patients with cardiovascular disease. He demonstrated a strong association between major depression and cigarette smoking and showed that a history of major depression greatly reduced the chances that a smoker will successfully stop; if such a smoker should successfully stop, he is at significant risk to develop serious depression. In the last few years he studied the relationship between depression and cardiovascular mortality.

Alexander Howard Glassman was born Feb. 4, 1934. From a published obituary: “His success as a physician and an academic was fueled by an insatiable intellectual curiosity, great persistence, pure stubbornness, and a passion for the science of medicine. He loved tennis and he loved food and some years he loved the Knicks but mostly he loved and was loved by his family, who will miss him forever.”

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Judy; his children, Steven and Sylvia Glassman of Louisville, Ky., and Doug and Laura Hercher of Edgemont, N.Y.; six grandchildren, Bennett, Devon, James, Katie, Dylan and Michael, “who were the pride and delight of his final 25 years.”