Former National Institutes of Mental Health psychiatrist loses license to practice

February 28, 2011

On January 1, 2011, the New York State Department of Health Board for Professional Medical Conduct suspended the license of psychiatrist Pearson “Trey” Sunderland III, for an indefinite period of no less than one year. 

This action is a result of the following: On December 8 2006, in U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, Sunderland pleaded guilty to Conflict of Interest.  He was sentenced in January 2007 to two years probation including 400 hours community service.

Sunderland, who was the chief of geriatric psychiatry for the National Institute of Mental Health, was found to have improperly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed income from the Pfizer pharmaceutical company while helping to control government-sponsored research with the same company. 

As part of his guilty plea, Sunderland admitted accepting payments from Pfizer without authorization from his superiors and ethics watchdogs.  He was required under NIMH rules to disclose all income earned from outside activities and travel expenses exceeding $260 that were paid by outside sources. 

Sunderland had been approached by Pfizer in late 1997 about NIMH joining a scientific collaboration to search for way to detect the presence and progression of Alzheimer’s disease but did not tell his bosses he'd cut a side deal with Pfizer for personal payments. 

In March 2009, the state of Maryland revoked Sunderland’s license due to his criminal conviction. 

Source: Consent Agreement in the Matter of Pearon Sunderland III, M.D., CO-09-05-2883-A, State of New York Department of Health.


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