October 20, 2008

School Welcomes New Dean


When the UW Board of Regents chose Dr. Thomas A. Baillie as the next dean of the School of Pharmacy, it welcomed back an old friend to the UW family. Baillie served as a professor of medicinal chemistry in the School from 1981 to 1994.

Baillie left the UW for Merck & Co. Inc. because of the opportunities it offered him to pursue his research in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics. He has been with the company since he left the University, most recently as vice president and global head of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics.

Throughout the years, the School of Pharmacy has continued to enjoy a close working relationship with Baillie, as he has collaborated with faculty on research and served on the School’s corporate advisory board.

Regarding his return to UW, Baillie is excited to take the helm of what he calls one of the premier schools of pharmacy in the nation. He also looks forward to Seattle’s scenery, seafood and climate. It is a climate, he points out, that rivals that of his native Scotland.

Baillie hails from the Hebridean island of Islay (pronounced “eye-la”) on the west coast of Scotland. The tiny island may be best known for its eight malt whisky distilleries, one of which Baillie’s father managed until he moved the family to Glasgow when Baillie was 5. That is where Baillie stayed through graduate school.

Baillie first came to the United States through a faculty appointment in the School of Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco.

When he later joined the UW Department of Medicinal Chemistry, it was still located in Bagley Hall on upper campus. Looking back on that time, he recalls the sounds of Drumheller Fountain outside his office and of “freshman students being tossed unceremoniously into Frosh Pond by their unsympathetic senior colleagues.”

Baillie counts his years at the School among the most enjoyable of his career. “I truly appreciated the highly collegial and supportive environment provided by the School and its faculty,” he said.

As he re-enters academia amid a new climate for health care, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, Baillie knows he will face challenges. He plans to respond to these challenges, in part, by building on and emphasizing the School’s many strengths.

Dean Emeritus Sid Nelson, who stepped down last month, said that Baillie is the right choice to lead the School, especially given his work in both industry and academia.

Nelson added, “He’s a good teacher and a good administrator. Faculty and students will appreciate him.”

Baillie’s wife, Kathleen, who has her Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the School of Pharmacy, will join the new dean in Seattle. Baillie has two grown sons — a computer animator for the movie industry in the Bay Area and a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at Emory University in Atlanta.

In his free time, Baillie can be found flying his single-engine Commander aircraft — which he recently piloted across the country to move from Pennsylvania to Seattle. He will not, however, be found playing golf. Although he comes from the birthplace of the sport, it is a hobby that he says he just never learned.

To learn more about Dean Thomas A. Baillie, read his inaugural Message from the Dean in the Fall 2008 Dawg Scripts.

In the photo above, Dr. Baillie (right) shares a laugh with Dr. Rene Levy (left), professor and former chair of the Department of Pharmaceutics, at a conference a few years ago. Baillie has maintained a relationship with the School since he left the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in 1994. He returned to the School of Pharmacy in the role of dean on October 1.

October 20, 2008


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