Philip Reginald Aldridge May was born in England in 1920. He attended Cambridge University and he completed his medical education at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1944. He then served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the RAF during World War II. Following post-graduate training in internal medicine, neurology and psychiatry in England and the U.S., Dr. May became an American citizen in 1951.
After serving on the medical faculty at the University of Colorado, Dr. May became Clinical Director and then Chief of Research at Camarillo State Hospital in California. He was appointed to the UCLA faculty in 1956, became Clinical Director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute in 1962, and in 1970 took charge of the Brentwood Veterans' Administration Hospital.
Dr. May was a broad-based researcher and educator who published more than 150 articles on topics including schizophrenia, clinical psychopharmacology, pharmacokinetics, abnormal motor behavior and program evaluation. In 1968 he published "Treatment of Schizophrenia," a study which established the efficacy of phenothiazene treatment and is now considered classic. In addition to scholarly works on psychopharmacology and mental illness, his curiosity led to him to research many subjects. His discoveries regarding the anatomy of woodpecker brains led to the creation of safer and more effective helmets for motorcyclists; his research into dance therapy for catatonic patients resulted in an important film on the subject.
His research achievements and scholarly publications, especially in the field of schizophrenia, won Dr. May a distinguished international reputation. He was also an accomplished clinical psychiatrist who developed new therapeutic approaches when conventional therapies failed, thereby stimulating the entire current generation of studies into treatment-refractory schizophrenia and the development of new antipsychotic drugs.
Dr. May received an honorary doctorate from the University of Goteborg, Sweden, as well as honors and awards from the American Psychiatric Association, and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology of which he was elected President. In 1983, following a worldwide search, UCLA selected him as the first Della Martin Professor of Psychiatry.
Dr. May and his wife, Genevieve May, M.D., psychoanalyst, together established the Philip and Genevieve May Psychiatric Endowment fund for the support and maintenance of their bequest of Mays' Landing, a study center for UCLA student groups, staff and faculty. Situated on a bluff overlooking Santa Monica Bay, Mays' Landing in Malibu is uniquely suited for contemplation and creative thinking, and it was in this small, private, peaceful setting that the Mays thrived, both in their professional pursuits and in their life together.