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In Memoriam: Donald Quinlan, PhD

May 11, 2021

Donald M. Quinlan, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, died April 29, 2021. He was 79. He had a long career in the Yale Department of Psychiatry as an expert clinician, ground-breaking investigator, and accomplished mentor and teacher. He also served as Head of College for Yale’s Morse College.

Don’s life and career were entwined with Yale since 1964, when he arrived to pursue his PhD in psychology. After completing an internship at the Connecticut Mental Health Center and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Psychiatric Institute, he joined the Department of Psychiatry faculty and that of the Department of Psychology in 1969. By 1972, he was professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. From 1974-2000, Don served as Chief Psychologist for Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), with oversight responsibility for YNHH psychologists, the YNHH Psychology Internship, and the YNHH Psychology Assessment Service. He worked closely with the YNHH Psychiatry leaders of that era including Malcolm Bowers. MD, Craig Nelson. MD, and Carolyn Mazure. PhD. For the last 18 years of his career, he served as the senior psychologist within the Yale New Haven Adult Intensive Outpatient Program, where he conducted countless admission assessments, led hundreds of psychotherapy groups, and supervised many psychology fellows.

Don was a polymath who made seminal research contributions in the context of a series of highly productive collaborations. With Martin Harrow, PhD, Don described the nature and clinical importance of disturbances in the form and content of thought in psychotic disorders. With Sidney Blatt, PhD, Don helped to develop the Depression Experiences Questionnaire, a tool that they used to subtype depression into groups that might be supported with distinctive psychotherapeutic approaches. With Richard Lane and Gary Schwartz, formerly of our Department, he contributed to the development of the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale. In the 1990s he returned to psychosis research in the context of collaborations with Ralph Hoffman, MD, Thomas McGlashan, MD, William Sledge, MD, and others. He contributed to many other areas, ranging from psychological responses to cancer to attention deficit disorder. With regards to the latter, he worked closely with Tom Brown, PhD, in the Center for Attention and Related Disorders on the assessment and treatment of ADHD.

Don was passionate about all domains of his work. He published over 150 papers, chapters, and books. He also touched the lives of countless patients and students. Not only intellectually brilliant and academically productive, Don was a warm and caring human being.

Don is survived by his wife, Sue (who was also a doctoral student in psychology), four children, and two grandchildren. Don’s family held a private funeral and will inform us in the future about any memorial activities.

Donations in his memory should be directed to WSHU Public Radio or The Trust for Public Land.

Don will be missed by his colleagues, mentees, and patients.

This announcement was submitted by Rajita Sinha, PhD, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, the Child Study Center, and of Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on May 11, 2021