The magazine for Western Washington University

College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumnus 2013

J. David Leander, pharmaceutical scientist

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J. David Leander, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumnus recipient

David Leander (’67, M.A., Psychology) was planning to become a school counselor before he began graduate school, but an intense year of “having a lot of fun being a scientist” at Western changed his plans for good.

After 10 years as a professor in the Pharmacology Department at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Leander spent two decades at Eli Lilly where he helped develop many famous medications, including Prozac, Zyprexa, Strattera, Cymbalta and Permax.

However, the breakthrough drug he is most proud of developing is not as famous. Leander and a colleague developed Entereg to treat constipation and aid gastrointestinal recovery after surgery. Chronic and painful constipation is common among elderly people who take several prescriptions.

Today, Leander is founder of Skagit Neuropharm Consulting. He advises biotech companies and venture capital groups looking to invest in small companies getting started in the neuropharmacology industry.