Floyd Bloom: Building a bridge to the future pg. 4
Propelled by this new paradigm, in 1964 Bloom accepted another post-doctoral fellowship at Yale, so he could learn histochemistry, using tissue sections to understand the chemical basis of brain function and define where neurotransmitters and their receptors are located. Bloom and others were sowing some revolutionary seeds: If certain brain diseases arise from chemical imbalances, perhaps those imbalances could be corrected with new medications that avoided the serious side effects of the older psychotropic drugs, and without having to use electroconvulsive shock therapy.
George Siggins, Ph.D., professor at The Scripps Research Institute, was one of Bloom’s first postdoctoral fellows at the NIMH and the two have continued their collaboration for 35 years. “St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was where the federal government put all the worst psychiatric cases that they did not know what to do with,” Siggins recalls. “The hospital was a former 'snake pit' wherein I believe they once had used all kinds of questionable 'therapies' (lobotomy, hydrotherapy, etc.), and it was kind of grim in an ‘Addams Family’ kind of way.
“The setting thus added to the plight of the patients, who ran the gamut of serious psychiatric problems. Since many of them were allowed to roam the grounds pretty much, we saw them on a daily basis when we entered or left the building, or went to lunch, and occasionally we would find one rifling through our desk drawers or file cabinets. We got to know them and their afflictions pretty well. But the daily encounters greatly reinforced our sense of duty, that we had a mission to improve their lives and conquer these disorders by our research.”