Earl Laux Giller, M.D., Ph.D. passed away on April 28, 2014 at the age of 70. Giller was a long-standing member of the Yale Psychiatry faculty who, among his many roles at Yale, served as Acting Chief and Research Director for the VA Connecticut Healthcare Psychiatry Service.
Giller came to Yale as a psychiatry resident in 1974. He received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1965. He obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from New York University in 1971. There, he worked in the laboratory of future Nobel Prize winner, Eric Kandel. Following NYU, he moved to the NIMH Intramural Research program, to continue his study of cholinergic systems. From NIH, he came to Yale for the neuroscience track of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program.
After residency, Giller joined the Psychiatry Faculty of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System under the leadership of Paul Errera, M.D. At the VA, Giller became the Director of Psychiatry Research and established a program in basic and translational research. His initial focus was on the biology of monoamine metabolism and he paired this work with the clinical evaluation of isocarboxazid.
However, Giller's most enduring legacy was his contributions to the field of PTSD. Giller played a critical role in initiating some of the first modern studies of the neurochemistry of PTSD. These studies described disturbances in the norepinephrine system and the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis that are now cornerstones of the field. Giller also helped conduct the first placebo-controlled trial of antidepressant treatment for PTSD, still the only class of medications with FDA approval for the treatment of PTSD.
Giller was recruited to the University of Connecticut at the rank of professor, where he continued his translational neuroscience research. From there, he moved to Pfizer, where he was a global clinical leader for the development of psychiatric medications, most notably, Geodon (ziprasidone). After Pfizer, Giller served as Vice President for Clinical Development of Marinus Pharmaceuticals, then as a senior advisor for MedaVante, and as an independent consultant to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
Giller was an exceptional psychiatrist and teacher. His commitment and expertise were obvious to all who worked with him and were deeply appreciated by his patients. As a mentor, he conveyed his commitment to scholarship, scientific rigor, and ethics.
Giller is survived by his wife of 29 years, Laura Jarett; his children, Susanna Tuffy, Ethan Giller, and Geoffrey Giller; his two grandchildren, James Tuffy and Eliza Tuffy; and his siblings, Jeanne Ellis and George Giller.
Contributions in Giller's memory can be made to the Closer to Free Fund, which jointly supports Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. Checks can be made payable to Closer to Free Fund and mailed to P.O. Box 7611, New Haven, CT 06519-0611. Please earmark checks for the Melanoma Research Program (Dr. Mario Sznol). Secure online gifts can be made at www.giveclosertofree.org.