Rosenthal, Norman

Professor Norman Rosenthal MD (b. 1950) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He graduated as a medical doctor with high honours from the University of Witwatersrand in 1973. He immigrated to the United States, where he did his psychiatry residency and became Chief Resident. In 1979, he joined the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where he became first a research fellow and later a tenured researcher. It was there in 1984 that he led the team that first named and described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and pioneered the use of light therapy for its treatment. The paper subsequently became a citation classic and has been cited well over 100 times. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of subsequent papers on SAD, light therapy, and related topics. Along with colleague Thomas Wehr, in 1991 he was awarded the Anna-Monika Prize for depression research for his work in this area. He is also a best-selling author, whose book Winter Blues, now in its fourth edition, has been described as ‘a classic work’ by the New York Times. He has also written seven other books for the general public. He is currently Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. He maintains a private practice in Bethesda, Maryland and continues to research innovative treatments for depression and other psychiatric disorders.
Interview conducted by Professor Tilli Tansey, for the History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group, 21 July 2014, and transcribed by Ms Debra Gee. The transcript of the video can be found here: Professor Rosenthal also contributed to the Witness Seminar on Seasonal Affective Disorder  ( A related interview with Professor Josephine Arendt can be found here: Funded by a Strategic Award to Professor Tilli Tansey from the Wellcome Trust.