Seiden, 72, pioneer of drug research

By Rachel Cromidas

Lewis S. Seiden, professor emeritus of neurobiology, pharmacology, and physiology, died at the Vitas Hospice unit of Chicago’s Mercy Hospital over the summer from complications related to the muscle-movement disorder dystonia.

Seiden, 72, was a prominent researcher on the effects of prescription and illegal drugs on brain chemistry during his time at the University.

Seiden was diagnosed with dystonia while he was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago in 1954. According to John Mullan, who headed research in neurosurgery at the University at the time, Seiden may not have been able to continue his studies at the U of C if not for the neurosurgical procedure Mullan and his colleagues performed on him then. Despite his illness, Seiden graduated with an A.B. in liberal arts in 1956 and went on to earn his S.B. in biology in 1958.

“I’ve known as a student, as a patient, and as a fellow faculty member,” Mullan said. “I am sure that if he was a totally ordinary person he would have been devastated by the disease, but he was one who wanted to overcome it. I’m sure that had a major effect on him pursing a career in medicine.”

Seiden worked at the University in different capacities throughout his career, including working as a research associate in pharmacology in 1963 before becoming an instructor in the departments of pharmacology and physiology in 1965 and attaining the status of full professor in 1977.

During this time, Seiden also taught in the College and served as a member of the Committee on Neurobiology as well as on various national committees on Mental and Environmental Health Services.

Seiden won numerous awards for his research, including the University of Chicago’s Gold Key Award for service in the Biological Sciences Division and an honorary doctorate in medicine from the University of Goteborg.

Seiden is survived by his wife, Anne Seiden, M.D. ’64; their three children; Alex Seiden, Evelyn Ivey, and Samuel Seiden, M.D. ’06; and a grandson, Lewis George Seiden.