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Former Chair Pens History of Pharmacology and Physiology at SLU

by Maggie Rotermund

Thomas C. Westfall, Ph.D., chair emeritus in Pharmacology and Physiology, has published “The History of Pharmacology and Physiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.”

The History of Pharmacology

The book is a comprehensive history of pharmacology and physiology at SLU, from 1842 to the present day. 

Westfall wrote in the preface that the book originated from his curiosity about the men and women who preceded him as chairs and faculty members.

“It is hoped that this book will be a valuable addition to the history of Saint Louis University and will serve as a permanent record of the accomplishments of the department and of the many men and women who have served and represented Saint Louis University over the years.”

Westfall credits William Stoneman, M.D., former dean of the School of Medicine as providing him with much of his source material. He also credits John Waide, archivist emeritus at SLU, the University’s digital archives and University and Medical Center publications including Universitas as providing valuable information for the book.

The history of pharmacology and physiology at SLU is divided into two phases, much like that of the medical school itself. The book describes the formation of the early school of medicine, the development of the departments of pharmacology and physiology and the separation of the school from Saint Louis University due to the hostility of the anti-immigrant, Anti-Catholic activities of the “Know-Nothing” movement of the time. 

The first phase is from 1842-55. At the time, the School of Medicine was the only school associated with a university not located on the Atlantic. The second phase of the book focuses on the establishment of the current school in 1903 and runs up to present time. 

The Department of Pharmacology and Physiology was a single entity from 1903-21. From 1921-90 there were separate departments of pharmacology and physiology. In October 1990, the departments were once again merged. 

The book includes biographical sketches of all the chairs of the separate and merged departments, from D. H. Augustus Prout, who chaired the first department in 1841, to Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D., who officially became the department chair on March 1. Salvemini served as interim chair beginning 2019.

“The History of Pharmacology and Physiology at Saint Louis University” documents the department’s contributions to biomedical science and the training of thousands of medical students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other undergraduates in health professions. 

The book is published by Reedy Press. Those interested in obtaining a copy of the book can contact the author at

About the Author

Thomas Westfall
Thomas C. Westfall. Submitted photo.

Westfall trained at West Virginia University (WVU), Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) and the College de France in Paris. Prior to joining SLU he was on the faculty at WVU and the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Westfall served as chair of Pharmacology from 1979-1990 and chair of Pharmacology and Physiology from 1990-2013.

He was named Scholar of the Year in 1985 and inducted into the Academy of Medical Educators, Saint Louis University in 2015 and the Academy of Pharmacology Educators, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in 2016.