Thomas W. North

Dec. 1, 1949 — June 23, 2014

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Dr. Thomas W. North, Professor at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta’s Department of Pediatrics, and Professor Emeritus at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine, passed away on June 23, 2014, in Atlanta.

Tom was born in Portland, Ore., and received his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Lewis and Clark College. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1976. He did three post-docs; his first in microbiology at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver, the second in pharmacology at SUNY Stony Brook in New York, and the third in Biochemistry at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

From there, he became an assistant professor at Tufts University Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and, later, Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana, in Missoula. He began his tenure at UC Davis in 1997 as a visiting research Biochemist, Center for Comparative Medicine. By 1998, Tom was a full Professor at the Center for Comparative Medicine, Molecular Biosciences until he was recruited in 2010 by Emory University.

His longtime friend and colleague Dr. Niels C. Pederson offered the following, “Tom North spent most of his career researching anti-retroviral drugs and his initial work with Gilead Sciences, which was done at the Center for Comparative Medicine and the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis, was important for the development of the main class of drugs now used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in adults and newborns. His colleagues remember him as the ultimate scientist. His research was done to the highest standards of quality and ethics, meticulously written up, and published in the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals.

“His career at UC Davis was followed up by his being named to a prestigious named faculty position at Emory University in Atlanta. Even while at Emory, and during the last couple of years when he suffered major health problems, he continued his contacts with UC Davis. He was a great mentor of graduate students and a friend and colleague to many. He always had two Golden Retrievers by his side and the St. Louis Cardinals in his heart.”

Robert Schinazi of Emory University, who was also a friend, colleague and collaborator, had this to say about Tom, “Students and colleagues remember Dr. North as a dedicated researcher whose creative approaches inspired others to look for innovative solutions to HIV study and treatment. He published more than 60 peer reviewed papers, mentored more than ten graduate students and served many times as Chairman of the NIH AIDS Special Emphasis Panel reviewing animal models. He was highly respected by his peers for his fairness and dedication to science. His contributions to the field were eclipsed only by his kind manner, thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit.”

Those who were lucky enough to call Tom their friend knew him as a generous and creative host, a willing and considerate guest, a congenial traveling companion and a great conversationalist, especially if the subject was Oregon pinot noirs, the St. Louis Cardinals, or his dogs, Casey and Rogi. He is sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.

A celebration of Tom North’s life will begin at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine

Special to The Enterprise

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