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Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D.
1926-2001

Photo of Dr. Varro E. Tyler
Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D.
(1926-2001)
The Varro E. Tyler Distinguished Lectureship was established in honor of Dr. Tyler to recognize his many contributions to the development of the professional and research programs in the College of Pharmacy during his 20 years tenure as Dean (1968-1988).

Varro E. Tyler graduated in pharmacy with high distinction from the University of Nebraska in 1949. He attended Yale University as an Eli Lilly Research Fellow the following year. After receiving his MS (1951) and PhD (1953) degrees from the University of Connecticut, Dr. Tyler was appointed Associate Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacognosy at the University of Nebraska.

In 1957, Dr. Tyler joined the University of Washington in a similar position, was promoted to Professor soon after, and was named Director of the Drug Plant Gardens at the university. Awarded the Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Memorial Research Fellowship in 1963, he spent that year as a visiting professor at the Institut für Biochemie der Pflanzen in Halle/Saale, Germany.

Dr. Tyler accepted the appointment as Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences at Purdue University in 1966. When the Schools of Nursing and Health Sciences were established at Purdue and combined with Pharmacy in 1979, he became Dean of the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Sciences. In 1984, he served as a visiting professor at the University of Göttingen, Germany. After serving as Purdue’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1986 to 1991, he returned to the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy to continue his outstanding research career as the Lilly Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy.

Dr. Tyler’s scientific interests were many, including medicinal and toxic constituents of higher fungi, phytochemical analysis, alkaloid biosynthesis, drug plant cultivation, and herbal medicine. He was the author of 250 scientific and educational publications in various professional journals and was the author of, or contributor to, such books as Pharmacognosy (9th edition, 1988), Experimental Pharmacognosy, The New Savory Wild Mushroom, Progress in Chemical Toxicology, The Honest Herbal (three editions),and Herbs of Choice. One of his most popular books was a study of Indiana folk medicine, Hoosier Home Remedies. Active in the profession, he served as the first President of the American Society of Pharmacognosy (1959-1961). He was the recipient of five honorary doctorates.

Dr. Tyler was active in community affairs, having served as President of Lafayette Home Hospital and as Chairman of the Board of Directors for North Central Health Services. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. His memberships included Lafayette Rotary Club, Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Psi, Rho Chi, Sigma Xi, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Kappa Phi, Lambda Tau, Phi Lambda Sigma, and numerous professional organizations.

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