History Timeline

Dr. Eli Robins

Dr. Eli Robins received his MD from Harvard in 1943 and remained in Boston for training in psychiatry and neurology. As was true of many psychiatry trainees in Boston at the time, Dr. Robins underwent psychoanalysis for about one year. He did research with Dr. Mandel Cohen, who encouraged Robins to meet Dr. Edwin Gildea, the head of the Department of Neuropsychiatry at Washington University. Dr. Gildea suggested that Dr. Robins learn basic research approaches and arranged for him to work in Dr. Oliver Lowry’s laboratory at Washington University. After a two-year fellowship, Robins joined the Department of Neuropsychiatry in 1951 as an instructor. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1953, associate professor in 1956, and full professor in 1958. When Dr. Gildea stepped down as Head of the Department in 1963, Dr. Robins became Department Head. Despite having early symptoms of what was eventually thought to be multiple sclerosis, Dr. Robins successfully led a feisty group of psychiatrists that helped change the direction of American psychiatry. The Washington University psychiatry faculty were strong proponents of a scientifically based "medical model" approach to the field of psychiatry. This medical model approach was developed at a time when psychoanalysis dominated the field. Dr. Robins succeeded Dr. Gildea as the Wallace and Lucille K. Renard Professor in Psychiatry. When Dr. Robins stepped aside from being the Head of the Department in 1975, Dr. Samuel Guze was appointed Head. Dr. Robins passed away in December 1994. The Eli Robins Award was established in 1996 to recognize residents and/or fellows who best exemplify potential for excellence in research, clinical care and teaching.