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Fred Elmadjian Collection, 1946-1997
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Fred Elmadjian Collection.
    Date (inclusive): 1946-1997
    Collection number: 340
    Creator: Elmadjian, Fred. 1915-2000
    Extent: 5 cartons (7.5 lin. ft.) 1 box (0.5 lin. ft.)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library.Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
    Abstract: This collection documents Dr. Fred Elmadjian's career as a research scientist and science administrator. His scientific work centered mostly on the endocrinology of stress. His administrative services at the National Institute of Mental Health focused on developing manpower for effective research into mental health and behavior. Elmadjian first envisioned, then enabled establishment across the country of interdisciplinary training programs which emphasized both the biological and the psychological knowledge needed for such research. The papers also contain transcripts of 16 audiotapes recorded after his retirement, which provide a rich personal account of his background, education, work, and especially his beliefs about the proper approach for a study of human behavior.
    Physical location: Southern Regional Library Facility
    Language of Material: Collection materials inEnglish


    The Collection is open for research except restricted access to Box 6, which contains information on identified patients.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Biomedical Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish if the Biomedical Library does not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Fred Elmadjian collection (Manuscript collection 340). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7089293 

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was willed by Dr. Elmadjian to the UCLA Neuroscience History Archives and subsequently transferred to the UCLA Biomedical Library.


    Fred Elmadjian, Ph.D. had two careers during his lifetime. First, as a researcher he focused primarily on neuroendocrine mechanisms and adaptive processes in stressful environments - in psychiatric patients, athletes, combat troops, chimpanzees being prepared for early space flights, etc. His numerous publications and reports, and the expressed gratitude of young protégés whom he mentored document the success of this professional phase. Then, after twenty years he switched to government service. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) first asked Dr. Elmadjian to develop programs that would train people for basic science research relevant to mental health, and train professional mental health personnel in the research methodology of the biological sciences. For the next twelve years, mainly as Chief, Biological Sciences Section, Behavioral Sciences Training Branch, he helped to envision and to enable the establishment of new interdisciplinary training programs across the country. Then Dr. Ellmadjian was promoted to increasingly broader policy-making positions in the Division of Manpower and Training Programs, but he continued to focus on the appropriate training of professionals to further NIMH's mandated goals. Two groups of remarkable letters, written at the time of his promotion in 1974, and of his retirement from NIMH in 1981, by NIMH colleagues, training program directors and trainees speak with overwhelming respect and gratitude about his achievements in broadening the perspective of research training in mental health and behavior.
    Dr. Elmadjian was born in 1915 in Aleppo, Syria, of Armenian parents. His father, a physician, and family emigrated to the U.S. in 1923. Fred Elmadjian was educated at The Boston Latin School, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy (B.S. and M.S.), Clark University (M.A.), and Tufts College (Ph.D.). His goal from an early age was to become a research scientist in a medical field; pharmacy was a decoy to satisfy his parents. At Clark University he met Drs. Hudson Hoagland, then Chair of the Dept. of Biology, and Gregory Pincus. Soon he was hired as a laboratory assistant to Pincus in the Clark U. Physiological Research Laboratory, and two years later he followed the two professors to the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (WFEB), which they jointly founded. Elmadjian worked with Pincus for twenty years, always as a member of the WFEB, but for many years also as Director of Biological Research and Director of Laboratories at the Worcester State Hospital (WSH).
    Dr. Elmadjian had no psychiatric training or experience, but he read widely, had a long-standing interest in understanding human behavior, and had contact at the WSH with psychiatric patients in overseeing early clinical psychoactive-drug trials. He felt that psychiatric theory and treatment of the time, mainly psychoanalytical, had insufficient scientific basis and neglected human biology. He developed and aired these ideas in a series of lectures/discussion with psychiatric residents at the WSH, and honed them in discussions with psychiatrist friends. His determination to make neuro-anatomy, -psychiatry, -chemistry, genetics, or anthropology as important for NIMH research training grants as psychology and psychiatry, provided the impetus for many new university neuroscience training programs across the United States.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains documents from Fred Elmadjian's masters thesis to correspondence late in his life. His scientific research career, carried out almost entirely at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology and the Worcester State Hospital, is well covered with grant applications and reports, publication drafts, lab reports, administrative memos, and correspondence. There is also a complete set of publication reprints, 1944-1965. During the second part of his professional life, as a science administrator in the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Elmadjian did not publish in the scientific press but did produce a large number of lengthy status and planning reports, memoranda, think pieces, speeches and lectures, which are well represented in the collection. He was a voracious reader on a wide range of topics and made extensive notes; the three folders packed with these typed extracts and summaries provide an illuminating entry to his interests and thinking. His many essays and musings on a variety of topics also provide insight into his inquisitive, sharp mind.
    Some areas of particular interest: 1. Three folders of letters, one in honor of his promotion from Branch Chief to Section Chief at NIMH, and two on the occasion of his retirement, provide powerful evidence for his impact on research training in behavior and mental health and on the development of an interdisciplinary field of neuroscience, and for the respect and gratitude this earned him from colleagues. 2. The memos, letters, informal notes on telephone conversations and meeting summaries, provide a widow into the internal workings of NIH/NIMH/ADAMHA at the time. 3. Most fascinating - the audiotape transcripts, which tell the whole story of his ancestors, his personal and professional life, and his thoughts, with revealing comments and retrospective musings.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    Series 1. Autobiographical Materials.
    Series 2: Early Career, Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (WFEB), and Worcester State Hospital (WSH), (1944-1965).
    Series 3: Division of Manpower and Training Programs (DMTP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (1962-1974).
    Series 4: Division of Manpower and Training Programs (DMTP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (1974-1982).
    Series 5: Speeches, Essays, Reading Notes, Audiotapes.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    National Institute for Mental Health (U.S.)
    Elmadjian, Fred, 1915-2000