As medical students at McGill University in Montreal in the late 1950s, Philip Seeman and his wife Mary took classes at a local hospital to see what schizophrenia looked like. "That's what changed my life," says Seeman. The patients were extremely difficult to manage. "I was shocked by the patient's screaming and catatonia, along with the terrible stench of urine on the floor. It was unforgettable," he recalls.
Several years later in the 1960s, the couple moved to New York City, where Mary Seeman oversaw a hospital ward of 100 patients with schizophrenia. Thesepatients were markedly different from those suffering from schizophrenia in the previous decade: they were not screaming or catatonic. The couple soondiscovered that, in just a few years, powerful antipsychotic drugs had arrived in the United States and Canada. Amazingly, these drugs, such as haloperidol and chlorpromazine, could subdue psychotic symptoms quite effectively, although doctors didn't know why. Mary encouraged her husband, who was pursuing a PhD at Rockefeller University with George Palade (who later received the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering ribosomes), to "do something useful" and search for the mechanism of these antipsychotic drugs.
Read More: Drugs from D2: Philip Seeman's discovery of the D2 Dopamine receptor transformed psychiatry. He's hoping his new company does, as well.