Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Feb. 28, 2017
John M. Nardo, MD, Born December 3, 1941 in Chattanooga, TN, died February 19, 2017.
John Michael Nardo, MD (known as Mickey) was the rare physician who excelled in patient care, medical education, and research. Born in 1941 to John and Nita Nardo, Mickey attended McCallie School and City High School. After attending the University of Tennessee, he initially expected to pursue a medical career in research, completing an NIH fellowship in Immunology and Rheumatology during an internal medicine residency in Memphis. However, his experience as an internist at Lakenheath Air Force base in England convinced him that he enjoyed working directly with patients and wished to have more time and skills to help them. So he decided to pursue a second residency in psychiatry in 1974 at Emory University. In 1976, he began psychoanalytic training at Columbia University in New York. After three years as Medical Director of the Grady Memorial Hospital psychiatric emergency room, he joined the faculty at Emory University Department of Psychiatry and assumed the position of Director of Residency Training. Later, he opted for private practice, serving Atlanta as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst for more than thirty years. Anyone lucky enough to have been his patient received superb care. Anyone lucky enough to have been his colleague appreciated Mickey’s gift for turning complex concepts into memorable vignettes. For decades, Mickey taught for the Atlanta Psychoanalytic Society and the Georgia Psychiatric Association. He was an active faculty member in Emory’s Psychiatry Residency Training and a pillar of the Psychoanalytic Institute.
In 2003, after a successful career as “Dr. Nardo,” Mickey “retired” in order to build barns and a house with two close friends, to create maps and a web site for the Mountain Stewards Trail Tree Project, and to blog about politics. In 2007, when he joined the Good Samaritan Clinic in Jasper, GA as a volunteer physician, he began to see first hand the problems of current psychiatric drug promotion. He quickly educated himself about the drugs that he had used only sparingly in his private practice. As a result of these observations, the focus of his blogging turned to exposing the problems in the pharmaceutical industry, especially the distortion of clinical trial reports. This work culminated in a “Highly Cited Paper” that he co-authored in the British Medical Journal in September 2015. After a lengthy struggle to obtain the original patient-level data used in a key article on a popular psychotropic drug, Mickey rigorously reanalyzed the data in order to demonstrate that the study’s claims of the drug’s effectiveness in children were false. In December 2016, on his 75th birthday, Mickey said, “I never thought I’d make my most important contributions to the field of medicine at this time in my life.” In January 2017, Emory School of Medicine promoted Dr. Nardo to Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry in recognition of his devoted service to psychiatry at Emory and in Atlanta and of his internationally recognized research.
Although Mickey spent his life trying not to be special, he was one of a kind. He had an epic sense of play and could sit for hours entertaining children with legos, clay, or toothpicks. And his neighbors all knew him as a consummate barbecue pit master. Mickey is survived by his wife of 50 years, Sharon Nardo; his daughter Abby Nardo, a psychologist in Raleigh, NC; his son-in-law Christian Karkow, an adjunct professor of design; his semi-adopted daughter of 30 years, Caitlin Way, Associate Director of Development at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta; and his sister Anna Nardo, LSU emerita professor of literature, now living in Evanston, IL. A memorial gathering will be held in Atlanta at 2pm on March 18th at the Emory Brain Health Center (12 Executive Park NE). In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of the following three groups in the name of Mickey Nardo: Foundation for Integrity and Responsibility in Medicine (http://firmfound.org) 16 Cutler St, Suite; All Trials (http://www.alltrials.net); and Lown Institute (https://lowninstitute.org).