In memoriam: Robert Guynn, MD

Robert Guynn, MD
Robert Guynn, MD

Robert Guynn, MD, professor emeritus in the Louis A. Faillace, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, died Oct. 30, 2022. He was 80.

Guynn was recognized nationally as a leader in psychiatric research and clinical care. He joined the Medical School as a junior faculty member in 1973. He rose through the academic ranks, being appointed associate professor and professor within 10 years. He served as acting chair and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences from 1987-2007. He also was the director of the UT Mental Sciences Institute and the executive director of UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center. He retired from McGovern Medical School in 2010, becoming a professor emeritus.

“Dr. Guynn was a real gentleman, a great clinician, academician, beloved friend and mentor to many in our field, and will be sorely missed,” said Jair Soares, MD, PhD, chair of the Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the Pat R. Rutherford, Jr. Chair in Psychiatry and vice president of Behavioral Sciences.

“Dr. Guynn meant a lot to so many in the years he was chair,” said Katherine Loveland, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the Landmark Charities Professor of Autism Research and Treatment. “He was a man of integrity and sincere devotion to the well-being of patients, the training of students, and the importance of science in psychiatry.”

He earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After a year of general internal medicine at Case-Western Reserve University/Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, Guynn returned to Baltimore to begin his psychiatric residence at the Henry Phipps Clinic of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He spent three years as a clinical fellow in the U.S. Public Health Service, assigned to the National Institutes of Mental Health. He spent three more years in Washington, D.C. pursuing biochemical and metabolic research, focusing on the determination of the thermodynamics of enzyme catalyzed reactions and metabolic control.

“He was an incredible psychiatrist and chairman who supported so many of us early-career researchers at the time,” said Joy Schmitz, PhD, professor and Louis A. Faillace, MD, Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

He cared for patients at Hermann Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Harris County Psychiatric Center, and LBJ General Hospital. His teaching responsibilities included mentoring and teaching medical students, laboratory preceptors, residents, and postdocs. He focused his research on such areas as the biochemistry of alcoholism and substance abuse and the biochemistry of aging.

“He was a kind man, a supportive chair, and a leader through times of transition,” said Scott Lane, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

He published 56 papers, along with 14 chapters and 39 abstracts. He served in leadership positions for numerous academic and medical societies, including as president of the Texas Research Society on Alcoholism and president of the Houston Psychiatric Society. He was a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Psychiatry and served as chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. He was an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatric and Neurology for many years.

“A giant sequoia has fallen in the forest. Dr. Guynn was our psychiatry chair for 20 years, and nurtured the careers of so many of us,” said Deborah Pearson, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

His research and teaching were recognized by numerous awards, including the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians Award and the Nancy C.A. Roeske, M.D., Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Medical Student Education by the American Psychiatric Association.

Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home, 4525 Bissonnet, in Bellaire, Texas.