By Celia Catlett
Dr. Irwin Slater comes across as a practical, unassuming man. When I interviewed him, he emphasized the collaborative nature of scientific research by mentioning the many others involved in his career in pharmacology. One of the men he worked with at Eli Lilly and Company portrayed Slater’s role a bit more glowingly: “He discovered the first beta blocker. Later, he was the senior member of the group that developed the antidepressant Prozac, that transformed millions of mentally ill individuals to productive members of our society.” After his retirement, he served as editor of the journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension from 1980 to 1992.
Irwin was born in New York City. After gaining a Bachelor of Science at the University of Virginia and his medical degree at New York University in 1941, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was on a landing craft during the invasions of Sicily and Salerno. On leaving the Navy, he finished a residency in internal medicine and briefly went into private practice. Realizing that research was his central interest, he began to teach pharmacology at the University of Rochester. Then he went to Indianapolis to work for Eli Lilly as Director of Pharmacological Research.
He and his first wife Virginia had a son David (now retired as a thoracic surgeon), a daughter Abby, three grandchildren, and one great-grandson. He and Virginia came to Southwest Florida in 1979 to live in Naples. After her death in 1990, Irwin continued in Naples until 1995, when he moved to Clearwater to be near his companion Harriet, who he also lost. In 2008 he married Anne (a girl he had known in seventh grade), who was also a scientist and a founder of The Association for Women in Science.
He recently moved with Anne to Sarasota to share space in an assisted living facility. Upon her death, he came to Plymouth Harbor. He likes his apartment and the people he has met. He enjoys bridge — which he plays regularly — and he also joins those of us who try to keep healthy through the Wellness Center activities.
Irwin has spent much of his life caring for people – for family and for the public at large through his research. We happily welcome him to our caring community here at Plymouth Harbor.