In Memoriam: Michael H. Sheard, MD


06/22/2011: The Department of Psychiatry of the Yale School of Medicine mourns the passing of Michael Henry Sheard, MD, professor emeritus of psychiatry and a member of the faculty since 1966, who died June 15. Dr. Sheard was an internationally recognized investigator in brain chemistry related to aggression and a pioneer in clinical studies of human aggression. He was the first investigator to evaluate the effects of lithium carbonate treatment on aggressive social behavior, work that he conducted while a consultant at the Whiting Forensic Institute in Middletown, Conn.

Born in England on August 23, 1927, Dr. Sheard received his medical degree from the University of Manchester School of Medicine, where he trained in internal medicine, pathology, psychological medicine, and neurophysiology. He continued with a year of psychiatry training at the Maudsley Hospital in London. Dr. Sheard came to the United States in 1956, and he was a resident psychiatrist at the Danvers (Mass.) State Hospital and at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Conn., from 1956 to 1962. He joined the Yale School of Medicine faculty in 1962 as a research fellow. He was appointed a research associate in 1965 and an assistant professor the following year, rising to become a full professor in 1978.

While at Yale, Dr. Sheard conducted groundbreaking research on the role of brain monoamine systems in behavior and aggression, collaborating with George Aghajanian, Daniel X. Freedman, John P. Flynn, Michael Davis, and others. Dr. Sheard's research on the neurobiology and neuropharmacology of aggression made a major contribution to this emerging field. His research on lithium carbonate provided a new clinical tool to help patients with disorders involving social aggression.

Dr. Sheard was an esteemed clinician supervisor and mentor who influenced the lives of numerous postdoctoral fellows and psychiatric residents. In addition to his longtime role as a consultant to the Whiting Forensic Institute, he was a highly respected clinician at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. Since his retirement in 1992, he was active in efforts to improve treatment for mental illness, and he spent time traveling, writing, and engaging in cultural activities.

Dr. Sheard was predeceased by his wife, Wendy, and he is survived by his sons, Paul, Russell, and Craig, and by his stepson, Anthony Steadman, and stepdaughter, Amanda Bourque.