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In Memoriam: Andrew Michael Mattison, PH.D.


January 11, 2006  |  

Andrew Michael (Drew) Mattison, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine until his retirement in 2005, died at the San Diego Hospice on December 29, 2005 after a prolonged struggle with stomach cancer.  He was 57. Mattison will be remembered as an inspirational leader, who brought heart to the organizations and communities he served.

Andrew Michael (Drew) Mattison, Ph.D.He is survived by his lifelong partner David P. McWhirter, M.D.; David’s children, Monica and Paul and their families; and by his siblings William, Laure, Carolyn, Marion and Amy and their families. A public memorial is planned for 10 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2006 at the Cassius Carter Stage at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park, San Diego.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Commonweal, a non-profit health and environmental research institution in Bolinas, California.

Dr. Mattison was a well-known clinical psychologist, author and UCSD researcher who was one of the founders of the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC) at UCSD.  He also co-founded the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR), serving as co-director until he retired due to ill health in 2005.

Mattison obtained his B.A. degree in English Literature from Fairfield University in 1970, a Master’s degree in Social Work from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1973 and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from United States International University in 1975. He joined UCSD in 1975 as an instructor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, where he participated in developing a curriculum on human sexuality for UCSD medical students taking the Core Course in Social and Behavioral Sciences.

In 1990, Mattison became an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Family and Preventive Medicine, rising to the rank of Clinical Professor in 2001. During this time, he and his lifelong partner, David McWhirter, M.D., completed a series of clinical studies that culminated in their landmark 1984 book, The Male Couple, published by Prentice Hall.  The pioneering study – based on extensive, structured interviews with gay couples – was among the first to document the variety and longevity of gay relationships, and was followed by an important video of the same name. Mattison and McWhirter authored many scientific papers and chapters on counseling gay couples, and on the impact of HIV on lesbians, gay men, and their families.

In 1989, the HNRC became the first organized research unit in the country funded by the National Institutes of Health to explore the impact of HIV on the brain and behavior. As head of the HNRC’s Participant Unit during the first decade, Mattison was integral to the Center’s success by providing creative links between the scientific-academic enterprise at UCSD and the communities with which the clinicians and scientists interacted. With an understanding of the family and community contexts of HIV as well as the challenges inherent in research, he was able to ensure that science was responsive to the Center’s participants. He was instrumental in developing numerous outreach and information exchange activities, leading the HNRC’s Community Advisory Board and the Participant’s Advisory Board.

Mattison was active in professional and community activities, serving as technical advisor to, and later President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, the oldest professional society dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about sexuality.  He was a frequent participant on panels, and provided expert opinions to governments and media, particularly in the area of using cannabis for medicinal purposes.  His numerous volunteer and charitable activities included work with San Diego’s Summer Quest and the Human Dignity Foundation.

Igor Grant, M.D., UCSD professor of psychiatriatry, Director of both the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center and the CMCR, said that “Drew’s leadership and unique ability to find common ground made him especially effective in establishing constructive relationships between scientists, California government officials, Federal agencies and concerned citizen groups,” Grant said.  “He made it possible for CMCR to conduct ground-breaking clinical trials in exploring the potential for cannabis as medicine.”

Lewis Judd, Chair of Psychiatry at UCSD's School of Medicine, said "Drew was a warm and caring man, who devoted himself fully and successfully to academic and scientific courses that he deeply believed in.  He and his energetic, upbeat, optimistic 'can do' style will be greatly missed by all those who knew him."

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Media Contact: Debra Kain, 619-543-6163,

UCSD Health Sciences Communications HealthBeat: News

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