Awards : Hall of Fame Award

Raymond Woosley, Ph.D., M.D. ’73

Raymond Woosley, Ph.D., M.D. ’73 is vice president for health sciences at the University of Arizona and was a top candidate to become the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002. From 1988 to 2000, he was chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at Georgetown University. During his tenure, that department became one of the highest ranked pharmacology departments in terms of research funding and achieved the largest endowment of any pharmacology department in the nation.

In 2001 he assumed the position of associate dean for clinical research. He has served on many national advisory committees for the NIH, Veterans Administration, the FDA and the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences). Prior to Georgetown, Woosley was professor of medicine and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. Before that, he was one of the first scientists at Meyer Laboratories, now Glaxo-Wellcome, from 1968 until 1971.

Woosley’s initial research focused on the basic and clinical pharmacology of antiarrhythmic drugs and he is considered an international authority on the drug treatment of arrhythmias. His research has been reported in over 250 publications, including 135 original articles, 46 book chapters and 61 invited reviews. He helped provide the scientific underpinning of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST), which began in 1987 with 27 sites nationwide to test the use of antiarrhythmic drug therapy to decrease mortality. He served as co-director of this trial, which demonstrated for the first time that antiarrhythmic drugs can suppress cardiac arrhythmias but still increase the risk of sudden death.

Woosley also conducted groundbreaking research on the medication Seldane, a popular antihistamine introduced in 1985 that was withdrawn from the market after reports that taking it in conjunction with certain drugs could cause potentially fatal abnormalities in heart rhythm. His work led to the discovery of fexofenadine, a safer version of Seldane that now is marketed under the brand name Allegra. More recently, Woosley’s research has explored why women appear to be more susceptible than men to potentially fatal arrhythmias caused by a number of prescription drugs. Among many other honors and awards, Woosley received the Harry Gold Award in Therapeutics from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and was the Sir Henry Hallet Dale Visiting Professorship in Clinical Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was the recipient of the FDA Commission’s Special Citation for his work with the FDA to make the public and the US Congress aware of the dangers associated with certain dietary supplements containing the herbal medicine, ephedrine. He often has been chosen by physician-colleagues for inclusion in the Best Doctors in America.

Woosley has been or is a member of numerous advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as numerous other research advisory groups, including the WebMD Medical Advisory Board and the Board of the Society for Women’s Health Research. He has served on the editorial boards for numerous medical and pharmacology journals. He received his doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Louisville and his bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University. He served his internship and residency in internal medicine and also completed a fellowship in clinical pharmacology at Vanderbilt.