Dr. Raymond Sackler, Physician and Supporter of Research Science, Dies at 97 1/2

STAMFORD, Conn., July 18, 2017 – It is with deep sadness that Purdue Pharma L.P. today announced the death of one of its co-founders, Dr. Raymond Sackler. Dr. Sackler died on July 17, after a brief illness. He was 97 1/2 years old.

Dr. Raymond Sackler was a noted philanthropist, physician, entrepreneur, business leader, husband, father, grandfather, friend, and mentor to many. For more than 50 years, Dr. Sackler and his wife contributed directly and through the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundations to areas spanning biomedical research, the physical and engineering sciences, and the arts.

Dr. Sackler and his brothers, Arthur and Mortimer, both also deceased, represented one of the nation’s most renowned philanthropic families, associated with the Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and it’s New York State program, the Freer and Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington as well as notable cultural, scientific, and educational institutions around the world.

Dr. Sackler began his education at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn and attended New York University, where he received his B.S. in 1938. He then pursued his medical degree, beginning at Anderson College of Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland, where he volunteered in the UK home guard and plane spotter in the first year of  World War II.   Due to the war, he completed his studies at the Middlesex University School of Medicine, on the site of current day Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where in 1944 he received an M.D. He was certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Early in his career,  Dr. Sackler moved strongly away from then dominant Freudian psychiatric model and explored and participated in research at the frontiers of psychopharmacology, the field which has transformed the treatment of most psychiatric illness recognized today.

Based on his background in medicine and medical research, Dr. Sackler and his brother Dr. Mortimer, purchased Purdue in 1952 located on Christopher Street in New York City. They began a pharmaceutical business that has continued to operate for 65 years, in the United States and around the world, developing and marketing medicines,  healthcare products and antiseptics for pain management, respiratory, gastrointestinal and other conditions.

Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1957, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Sackler, with his two brothers, Arthur and Mortimer Sackler, were co-founders of the Creedmoor Institute for Psychobiological Studies in New York City, where they engaged in research in the biology of biology of schizophrenia and psychosis.

Among the many honors Dr. Sackler earned are honorary degrees from Tel Aviv University, The University of Connecticut and Tufts University. He received knighthoods in three European Countries. He was awarded The Honorary Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire, (KBE);  Officier de la Légion d’honneur (France), and was an Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau (The Netherlands).

Dr. Sackler’s philanthropy also included the establishment and endowment of schools, institutes, centers, departments, endowed chairs, professorships, fellowships, and research awards in the biomedical and physical sciences, as well as lectureships at academic institutions around the world.

He was an early adoptor and provided major philanthropic support for Convergence Research, the increasing importance of mathematics, physics, and engineering sciences in forging deeper understanding of biology in its transformation from a largely qualitative to an increasing quantitative field.  The sequencing and unraveling of the complexities of the human genome, emergence of nanotechnology and rapid advances in biological imaging are only a few examples of Convergence Research supported by Dr. Sackler’s generosity and vision. 

Dr. Sackler counted among his friends and associated with a host of scientific and academic experts, including Nobel Laureates Joshua Lederberg, Emilio G. Segrè, Julius Axelrod, Phillip Sharp, Martin Chalfie, Sir Keith Peters, and Sir Martin Rees.

He is survived by his wife Beverly, and their two sons.

The family has asked that anyone wanting to make memorial contributions consider contributing in his name to Greenwich Hospital, 5 Perryridge Road, Greenwich, CT 06830.