John D. Palmer, MD, PhD, professor emeritus with the University of Arizona College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology, has received the UA Honorary Alumnus Award in recognition of his more than 40 years of exceptional contributions, loyalty and service to the University. The award was presented Oct. 22 during UA Homecoming activities.
The UA Honorary Alumnus Award is given to non-alumni of the UA who have demonstrated continued interest in and exceptional loyalty and service to the university for 10 years or longer. Particular consideration is given to individuals who have responded to requests for service from the university.
Dr. Palmer joined the UA College of Medicine in 1966 as the founding director of the Multidiscipline Laboratories (MDLs) and was appointed UA associate professor of pharmacology in 1969. In his early days at the college he did it all, from labs to curriculum. He often is mentioned by alumni for his service in admissions and interviewing and as a student advisor, mentor and career counselor. His pioneering role in every facet of the college is an investment that has paid off handsomely for the UA, the state and for the many patients in his or his students’ care.
He always wanted to be a teacher so he could “broaden his horizons” and make that experience even more meaningful to others. At one point he considered a career in surgery, but chose internal medicine and clinical pharmacology because he felt that it would have the greatest impact on his teaching, research and patient care responsibilities.
Dr. Palmer’s academic career spans more than 50 years. In addition to the UA, he has held positions at the University of Colorado, University of Minnesota, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-San Francisco, University of Washington-Boise and Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand.
He also served as a physician-rotator at the Navajo Health Foundation/Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado, Ariz. He was a volunteer physician with the Indian Health Service at Tuba City Indian Medical Center in Tuba City, Ariz.; at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colo.; and at a clinic in Bandipur, Nepal. He worked as an inpatient attending physician on the medical service at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System in Tucson.
He also served on the National Institutes of Health study section that dealt with the funding of new medical schools.
His basic and clinical research resulted in the award of grants and the publication of research reports and book chapters.
During his tenure at the UA College of Medicine, he received many awards, including the Vernon and Virginia Furrow Award for the Excellence in Basic Science Teaching for Medical Students (2003); the Faculty Science Forum Founders Day, Special Recognition Award (2002);
and the Dean’s List of Excellence in Teaching Basic Sciences (1981, 1983).
He was selected the Outstanding Lecturer by second-year medical students at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (1987); and honored with the Distinguished Coloradan Award by the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy (2003).
Dr. Palmer continues to teach medical and graduate students. When not teaching, he pursues his interests in fly fishing and mountaineering in Colorado, where he spends his summers.