6 questions with the new College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences dean

Mark Leid
Mark Leid will take over as dean of the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences on July 1, 2020

Following an illustrious career in researching transcriptional regulation, cell signaling, and developmental biology, Washington state native and former Cougar alumnus, Dr. Mark Leid, will return to his alma mater to lead the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences starting July 1. CPPS sat down with Dr. Leid to learn more about his personal interests and perspectives.

What drew you to the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences?
I trained as a pharmacist at WSU many years ago and that training changed my life in very fundamental ways. The skills that I learned in the basic and clinical sciences here—as well as soft skills—positioned me well for success as a pharmacist, graduate student, postdoctoral fellow in France, and then as a faculty member for 28 years at Oregon State University. CPPS at WSU is loaded with outstanding faculty, staff and students on both campuses, and there is so much potential for growth here.

What brings you fulfillment as an educator and college administrator?
The successes of those who I train as an educator and serve as an administrator are highly rewarding to me. The look on a student’s face when a complex topic is finally understood is just priceless and I find it addictive. The pure joy of a faculty member when a grant proposal is funded or that first independent or high-profile paper is published is just as rewarding. Their successes are my successes.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I make my own kombucha, yogurt, and wine because these things remind me of lab work, which I love.

What are you reading right now and do you recommend it?
Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. This book was given to me by a former graduate student because she doesn’t think that I sleep enough. The author is a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley and I really like the scientific approach he takes in studying and writing about sleep. While some of Walker’s points are criticized by others, I highly recommend this book for everyone.

Who is someone you really admire and why?
My wife—she is an outstanding scientist and a wonderful mother to a bunch of our kids. She runs her lab and our home with a high degree of efficiency and she never complains about anything. I just really admire working mothers—it’s a tough gig. My wife, Jane, is also a very proud English woman, who never misses a chance to talk gushingly about the UK.

What is the best advice you ever received and why?
My postdoctoral mentor, Pierre Chambon, told me that it’s important to work as hard as possible at everything I do. I think that this is simple, yet solid advice for everyone. Unless you work as hard as you possibly can work, you will never know what you’re capable of accomplishing. As I was leaving his lab Pierre also told me that I should never compete with his lab on any scientific project. As his lab was about 100-fold bigger than my lab at the time, this also seemed like very good advice to me.