January 24, 2020

Faculty Legend Wendel Nelson Retires

After over 50 years of distinguished service at UWSOP and wide-ranging contributions to the profession of pharmacy, Professor Wendel Nelson retires this month.

Wendel Nelson

Wendel Nelson

Wendel joined the School as an Assistant Professor in 1965 in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, prior to its split into the current Departments of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics in 1976. After promotion to Associate Professor, and then to Professor, Wendel served as Chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry from 1985-1999. As Chair, he provided vision for the design and construction of then ‘new’ H-wing space and our move from Bagley Hall in 1994. From 1978 until 2000, Wendel served as Director of the interdepartmental Training Program in Pharmacological Sciences, which has received over 40 consecutive years of continuing support from NIH. This grant provided support for many of our students, now alumni, of our PhD programs over the years.

Wendel’s contributions to PharmD training were also significant. Several generations of first and second year PharmD students learned the importance of medicinal chemistry in Pharmacy practice.  Wendel held PharmD students to a high standard that demanded a real knowledge of chemistry and pharmacology.

Wendel’s scholarly activities and research were highly impactful. His research provided fundamental insights into the regioselectivity of the metabolism of several important -blockers. Wendel’s lab also championed the use of synthetic active site-directed electrophilic probes to characterize opioid receptors, which provided deeper insight into their structure and function. More recently, Wendel participated in the determination of the stereochemical course of the metabolism of retinoic acid. In total, Wendel’s research included fundamental discoveries about the metabolism of therapeutic drugs, mechanisms of pharmacologic receptors, and the basic biochemistry of endogenous regulators of cell growth through the application of the principles of organic and synthetic chemistry.

Wendel’s scientific influence is evident in other ways, and he served on numerous review panels and editorial boards. Most notably, Wendel was the Senior Editor of the prestigious Journal of Medicinal Chemistry from 1989-2007, and he served as Chairman of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the American Chemical Society in 1966.  As a result, Wendel is nationally and internationally recognized for his research and editorial contributions in the field of Medicinal Chemistry.

The Department and the School are fortunate to have been the professional home of Professor Nelson. Please join us in congratulating Wendel on a remarkable career and in wishing him a very happy retirement.

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