The Vanderbilt neuroscience community is saddened to announce the death of Dr. Louis (Lou) J. DeFelice who passed away suddenly on Monday, November 14th. Lou unceasingly was driven by his love of science and made monumental contributions that advanced our understanding of serotonin (5HT), dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) transporters in the nervous system.
Lou received his undergraduate degree in Physics in 1962 and a Master's degree in Physics in 1964 from Florida State University in Tallahassee. He received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1967 from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada under the mentorship of Cyril Challice. After completing postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Dr. David Firth at McGill University in Montreal and Dr. Bert Verveen at the University of Leiden, in The Netherlands, Lou joined the faculty at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA in 1971. He moved to Vanderbilt University in the Department of Pharmacology in 1995 as Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience and Director of the Pharmacology Training Program. He served as Assistant Dean for Diversity in Medical Education from 2002-2004.
In 2008, Lou joined the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics where his lab continued their quantitative studies of excitable membranes and extended this work to synaptic transmission and neurotransmitter uptake mechanisms. In his role as Assistant Dean for Graduate Education, Dr. DeFelice served as the Program Director for the Pre-Medical Graduate Basic Health Sciences Certificate program for the seven years to the present in which disciplinary curricula were consolidated into a single program. Under his leadership, the program was expanded to serve as a pathway to not only the Medical School, but the Dental School as well.
Lou's dedication as a mentor, teacher, and advisor was legendary, and his generous spirit influenced generations. While nothing can compare to the loss for Lou’s family, Lou's passing also is an enormous loss for his broader scientific family, and he will be missed by many colleagues throughout the world. Our thoughts are with Lou’s wife, Goli Sotoochi, and the entire DeFelice family.