WOODS, Dr. Lauren A. Ph.D, M.D., who made significant contributions to the fields of pharmacology and toxicology and to the advancement of American medicine as a scientist, department chairman, teacher, mentor and administrator, passed away in Albany, Calif., on January 24, 2013 at the age of 93. Lauren was born on September 10, 1919 on a farm in Belford Township, S.D. After high school, he enrolled in Dakota Wesleyan University, graduating in 1939 with a joint degree in math/physics and chemistry. He began his graduate work in chemistry at the University of Detroit. He was then recruited by Dr. Henry Gilman to the graduate program at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. There, he received his Ph.D. in 1943 in organic chemistry, and remained on as a research associate, working on a special National Defense Research Project associated with the Manhattan Project at Ames for which he received a certificate award from the National Defense Research Committee during World War II. He later synthesized several antimalarial drugs submitted to the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan. In 1944, he married Carol Ogle and moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he joined Dr. Maurice Seevers in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan and registered as a student in the School of Medicine. He worked as both research fellow and instructor in pharmacology until receiving his M.D. from Michigan in 1949. He was then promoted to assistant professor. His research concentrated on absorption, distribution and metabolism of chemicals and drugs, particularly the opiates. He was the first to isolate morphine-3-glucuronide, the principle metabolite of morphine. Later, he became interested in cancer chemotherapeutics and published extensively in the field. He rapidly moved through the ranks to full professor. In 1960, he accepted the post of Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa. He built that department into one of the foremost in the country. In 1970, he accepted the position of Vice President for Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Va. During his tenure as Vice President, there was a great flowering of research, teaching and services on the medical science campus. He was directly responsible for recruiting and supporting strong deans and chairpersons throughout all academic departments. He was also instrumental in helping to establish the first National Cancer Institute funded cancer research center in Virginia, the VCU Massey Cancer Center. Dr. Woods retired in 1984, but continued to actively participate in research projects and department functions. In 1990, Lauren and Carol Woods created an award program for outstanding graduate student research in the VCU Department of Pharmacology. They also established the Annual Seevers Lecture in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Michigan. Over his long career, Dr. Woods was a member of many national research committees, including the NIH study section on cancer chemotherapy, the AMA council on drugs and the Advisory Committee on Scientific Activities of the FDA.
He was named President of the American Society for Pharmacology Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), 1970-1971, and President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), 1971 to 1972. He particularly enjoyed his long service as a Member of the United States Adopted Names (USAN) Council from 1966 to 1987, and as a member of the Expert Panel of Flavoring Extract Manufacturers Association from 1961 to 2002. After residing in Richmond, Va., from 1970 to 2002, Lauren and Carol moved to Albany, Calif., to be closer to their children, where he enjoyed the final decade of his life well cared for in his home. Lauren was predeceased by Carol in 2010 after 66 years of loving marriage. He is survived by a daughter, Judith A. Woods of Kirkland, Wash.; and two sons, David L. Woods of Albany, Calif., and Douglas C. Woods of Parksville, British Columbia; three grandchildren, Vanessa, Elle and Andura; three great-grandchildren, Jacob, Olivia and Wyatt; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. The family wishes to extend a special thanks to Pablo Magtalas Jr., Bernadette Espejo and Joseph Llacer for the excellent care and respect Lauren received during his final years. Lauren will be remembered by his many family, friends, colleagues and students for his warmth, intelligence, thoughtful and generous nature and for his integrity. He will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved him. A memorial service is being planned for later this year in Richmond, Va., where Carol and Lauren will be laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
This obituary was originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.