Dear Colleagues-Friends,

With heavy hearts we learned about the passing of Louis S. Harris, Ph.D. last week. His tenure on campus spanned more than four decades, including service as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the School of Medicine and as associate vice president for health sciences at VCU. 

A man of science, he had nearly 300 journal publications to his credit, and his findings have shaped our understanding of opioid and cannabinoid pharmacology as well as pain management. Dr. Harris leaves a proud legacy of national prominence in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, where it has been most recently ranked 16th nationally in federal funding.  This ranking reflects VCU’s strengths in neurosciences and addictions, where we rank 11th in funding from the NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and 16th in funding from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Dr. Harris always espoused an inspirational vision, and his and his family’s generosity will be felt at VCU for generations through endowed funds that support programs, faculty and students on both campuses. When you look around you, you’ll see his long-lasting influence and his compassion for his community. A patron of the arts, he purchased many creative works from VCU Arts students that are displayed around campus for our inspiration and enjoyment.

First and foremost, Lou was an outstanding personal friend,” said Dr. Bill Dewey, chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and longtime friend and colleague of Harris.  “He was also true friend  to this university through his leadership in research, administration and philanthropy. He will be greatly missed.”


A lovely tribute to his contributions is available at   More information about Dr. Harris, including a reception to celebrate his life is linked here:  We have benefitted in so many ways from his service and leadership. Our hearts go out to his family.



Warm regards,


Peter F. Buckley, M.D.

Dean, VCU School of Medicine

Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System