In Memoriam: Charles L. Bowden, MD, 1938-2022

Charles L. Bowden, MD, a pillar of the Department of Psychiatry faculty for half a century who changed the way bipolar disorder is diagnosed and treated, died March 1 at the age of 83. Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Virginia M. Bowden, PhD, who served for 33 years at UT Health San Antonio, including 18 as director of the Dolph Briscoe Jr. Library.

The Bowdens met while both were students at The University of Texas at Austin. He went on to earn his MD degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 1964. During his internship, he elected to specialize in psychiatry and completed his residency at the Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City.

Dr. Bowden, a native Texan, returned to the Lone Star State in 1970 to join the Department of Psychiatry at UT Health San Antonio. He served for 47 years, rising to chair of the department and, in later years, to emeritus professor. He was principal investigator for more than 100 studies and published more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles and seven textbooks. He received his field’s highest awards from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

His obituary reads, “Dr. Bowden’s most signal professional achievement, however, may have been the clinical trial he led, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994, that found the drug depakote to be effective in treating the manic phase of bipolar disorder. Dr. Bowden testified before the FDA to help secure approval of depakote to treat bipolar disorder. Before this, lithium was the only approved medicine for the disorder. Dr. Bowden’s discovery helped untold millions of sufferers of the disease, as depakote offered them a badly needed alternative to manage their mood swings without the more severe side effects of lithium.”

Dr. Bowden, who retired in 2017, had suffered from Lewy Body dementia for a number of years. A celebration of his life was held Friday, March 11, at 11 a.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio, 7150 Interstate 10 West, San Antonio, Texas 78213.

To read the complete obituary, click here.

Will Sansom, Media Communications