James R. Gillette, Ph.D.
February 9, 1928 to December 26, 2001
Chief, Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
A scholar, and major contributor to the field of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics
Philosopher and scientist, supervisor of pharmacologists world wide.
A gentle man of keen intellect, great integrity, impeccable character, and modesty
His famous picture was of him playing with his pipe or scratching his head.
James R. Gillette was born in Calumet City, Illinois,
and was brought up in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. The family tradition was to
attend Cornell College, Iowa, and Jim did just that. After graduating
from Cornell College, Jim started graduate work at the University of
Iowa in Biochemistry with Dr. George Kalnitsky, with whom he obtained
his M.Sc. After a short hiatus as a teacher at Jamestown College in
Jamestown, North Dakota, Jim returned for his Ph.D. degree at the
University of Iowa. Jim met Joan at the Wesley Foundation in Iowa City
where she was a graduate student in Bacteriology. They were married in
After graduation in May 1954, Jim and Joan
moved to Bethesda, MD, onto his first position with Bert LaDu at the
Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology/Heart and Lung Institute at the NIH,
where the grandfather of Pharmacology, B.B. Brodie, was chief. Jim
flourished in this great environment among gifted colleagues. His
studies on Cytochrome P450 were seminal and rose to the ranks to succeed
Dr. B.B. Brodie as chief of the Laboratory in 1972. He had a prolific
career and published around 300 papers and chapters and coeditied seven
books and was a self-taught mathematician, relating biological events
with mathematics. His visions in the fields of drug metabolism and
pharmacokinetics had earned him numerous honors and awards: the D.Sc.
from Cornell College, the Troy Daniel lectureship at UCSF in 1976, the
B.B. Brodie Award in 1978, as well as honorary memberships from the
Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences and ISSX.
Throughout his career, Jim had always demonstrated
excellence in research and held key positions in task forces and
committees admonishing drug-mediated toxicity. For those who knew Jim
well, we remember him not only for his striking achievements, but his
gentle natrure. He treated students and fellow scientists with the same
kind and sincere demeanor that won our gratitude and admiration. He
conducted his scientific career with grace, and would be remembered for
his science, gentleness, modesty and impeccable integrity.