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Dr. William dewey

Dr. William L. Dewey
Louis S. and Ruth S. Harris Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

The Presidential Medallion was established in 1984 by the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors to honor the outstanding contributions of members of the university community.  Presented by the President at Commencement, the award recognizes these individuals for extraordinary achievement in learning and commitment to the mission of VCU.

Dr. William L. Dewey earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Siena College, The College of Saint Rose and the University of Connecticut, respectively, and performed his postdoctoral work at the University of North Carolina, where he later served as assistant professor of pharmacology.

In 1972, VCU recruited Dr. Dewey to serve as director of the graduate program in pharmacology, and he has since held a number of posts within the university, including vice chair for research, vice chair, and currently chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, associate dean, and later, dean of the School of Basic Health Sciences, assistant dean of the Graduate School and, for 12 1/2 years, associate provost and vice president for research and graduate studies.

Dr. Dewey has also served as executive director of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park and currently serves as president of The Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in addition to his past posts as president of The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.  For more than 20 years, he has been chair of the National Advisory Board of the Research Center for Minority Institutions at Florida A&M University and the Consumer Advisory Board for the Partnership for People with Disabilities at VCU.

He worked simultaneously as the director of three training grants from three different NIH institutes, and one of the grants has been funded for 40 years.  His investigator-initiated research has been funded by NIH for more than 44 years, including the years he served in the central administration of the unversity, and concentrates on the functional role of endogenous substances, including neurotransmitters, opioids, calciuim and calcitonin gene-related peptide in the mechanisms of action of morphine and other abused substances.

Dr. Dewey and Edwin Myer, M.D., emeriti faculty in the VCU Department of Neurology, discovered than an increase in endogenous opioids occurred in sudden infant death syndrome, and this led to the use of naltrexone for the treatment of SIDS and other diseases with centrally induced respiratory depression.  In addition to his opioid work, he has contributed significantly to the pharmacology and understanding of the mechanism of tolerance to marijuana.

Dr. Dewey and his wife Pat will celebrate 52 years of marriage this October.  The couple has six children and 13 grandchildren.



Virginia Commonwealth University   |   School of Medicine   |   Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
1112 East Clay Street, Suite 100, P.O. Box 980613, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0613   |   Phone: (804) 827-0375
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Updated: 9/9/2013