Ewald W. Busse
Dan G. Blazer MD, PhD
JP Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke University Medical Center
Ewald W. “Bud” Busse died on Sunday, March 7, 2004, in Durham, North Carolina, after an extended illness. In many ways he was the founder of geriatric psychiatry research in the United States and one of the pioneers in geriatric psychiatry training and practice.
He was born in St. Louis, Mo., received his AB (as well as an honorary ScD) degree from Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) and graduated from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, in 1942. After serving in the army (where he learned electroencephalographic skills) during WWII, he moved to the University of Colorado , where he trained in psychiatry and later joined the faculty. During his early research career, he discovered a unique spike on EEG in the temporal lobe that was associated with aging. That finding lead to a lifelong career devoted to the longitudinal study of normal aging and its psychopathological variants. During an era of psychoanalysts, Busse was a well-trained dedicated biological psychiatrist who greatly valued eclecticism.
He moved to Duke Medical Center in 1953, where he chaired the Department of Psychiatry until 1974. He also founded the Duke Center on Aging and Human Development in 1954. In 1965, he was named the first J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry at Duke and later served as Dean of Medical Education. During his tenure as chair, the first training program in geriatric psychiatry in the U.S. was established in the 1960s. He also was the senior editor of the American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry for three editions.
During his career, Busse accepted many positions of leadership and received many honors including membership in the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences), President of the American Psychiatric Association, American Geriatrics Society, Gerontological Society of America, and International Association of Gerontology. He served on President Ford's Biomedical Research Panel.
Busse was a dedicated family man and was rarely seen at professional meetings without his wife “Ort,” who survives him, along with three children. He was the consummate scientist until the end of his life. He never accepted statements at face value but always looked for the evidence, reading the literature religiously and thoroughly.
He will be sorely missed by the Duke community and geriatric psychiatrists worldwide.