Harold Alexander Abramson
Harold Alexander Abramson (November 27, 1899 – September 1980) was an American physician (allergist and pediatrician) noted as an early advocate of therapeutic LSD. He played a significant role in CIA's MKULTRA program to investigate the military applications of LSD.
Abramson graduated from Columbia College in 1919, receiving an M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1923. He specialized in allergy medicine and pediatrics.
He joined the staff at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City in 1941, cultivating an interest in asthma and pulmonary disease, and where he was the first ever to use aerosolized penicillin. He stayed at Mount Sinai until 1959.
In 1953 Abramson proposed an $85,000 study to the CIA on the effects of LSD on unwitting hospital patients. This was the same year that the MKULTRA program was established. Funding for the project was funneled through the Macy Foundation. Abramson was an attending physician in connection with the tragic (and allegedly LSD-induced) apparent suicide of Frank Olson, a microbiologist who was covertly given LSD as part of the CIA's psychotropic drug research. Starting in 1954, Abramson published a series of articles on the effects of LSD on Siamese fighting fish. He is said to be the person who influenced many members of the Cybernetics Group to turn to LSD, including Frank Fremont-Smith, head of the Macy foundation. (The Cybernetics Group, originally named The Conference on Feedback Mechanisms in Biology and the Social Sciences, was started in 1946). He was also an organizer of the 6 international LSD conferences, the first being held in 1959.
In 1967, he published the book The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy and Alcoholism.
He was the founder, with M. Murray Peshkin, of the Journal of Asthma Research, and remained its editor until his death.
Confusion with Harold Abramson (1899-1974)
Another Harold Abramson (no middle initial), also born in 1899, attended Columbia College around the same time. Harold A. Abramson graduated from Columbia College in 1919, received his M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1923 and died in 1980. The other Harold Abramson received his BA in 1920, his M.D. in 1924 and his M.A. in Psychology in 1932 all from Columbia. Harold Abramson also specialized in pediatrics. He died in 1974.