Scott Burchiel, PhD

Remembering Scott Burchiel, PhD, Longtime College of Pharmacy Faculty Member

Scott Burchiel, PhD, emeritus distinguished professor in The University of New Mexico Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, died unexpectedly on July 24 in Albuquerque.

Burchiel, the Nunzio and Sherolyn DeSantis Endowed Chair of Pharmacogenomics, was an expert in immunotoxicology and environmental carcinogenesis who had published more than 125 scientific manuscripts and received research funding from the National Institutes of Health for more than 35 years.

An active grant reviewer for the NIH and member of Food and Drug Administration scientific advisory groups, Burchiel served as editor-in-chief of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology and was a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.

His work focused on the effects of environmental agents on the immune system, gene-environment interactions and the epigenetics of immune suppression.

Working with then-dean William Hadley, Burchiel jump-started the research program in the College of Pharmacy in the early 1980s and was a driving force in building it to the 6th-ranked pharmacy research program in the U.S., said Dean Donald Godwin, PhD.

“He was an amazing educator, scientist and person. The College’s success was his success, and he was an amazing mentor to countless faculty, students and post-docs,” Godwin said. “I remember when Scott interviewed me for an assistant professor position and I will always be grateful for the advice, guidance and support he gave me. His energy and enthusiasm can be summed up with his catchphrase, ‘Get ‘er done!’”

Burchiel had an abiding interest in environmental health, said Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, UNM’s Executive Vice Chancellor for Research. “This is a deep loss. He was a huge contributor to the health and education mission in the Health Sciences Center and the College of Pharmacy. He will be missed by the faculty, staff and students.”

Burchiel received his BS in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, in 1973, and a PhD in pharmacology from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1977. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the UNM School of Medicine’s Immunology Laboratory before joining the College of Pharmacy in 1978.

He served as Associate Dean for Research in the College and was instrumental in securing a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences center grant to establish the UNM Health Sciences Signature Program in Environmental Health Sciences.

Burchiel also played a key role in establishing the New Mexico Center for Isotopes in Medicine in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). “He really established the foundation for our future work with LANL,” Larson said.

He retired from UNM in 2016 but continued his research as a working faculty member. He is survived by his wife Judy, son Andrew and daughter Amy Boger, her husband Eric and their children Shelton and Sophie.

The family has established an endowment in his memory to support the research efforts of graduate and professional students at the College of Pharmacy:

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