Endowed scholarships to assist students focused on understanding the brain’s workings and those studying conservative initiatives and Western Civilization
As a liberal undergraduate, Todd D. McIntyre planned to study psychology and then attend law school. He didn’t anticipate becoming so fascinated with science, the brain in particular, that he’d completely change his academic trajectory and then launch a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, where developing treatments for brain pathologies has been his primary focus.
He also didn’t anticipate becoming more conservative.
He attributes his success in part to a solid work ethic, good analytical and writing skills and the help of mentors at the University of Colorado Boulder and elsewhere.
Because of his gratitude for the help he received at CU and as a way to engage students in diverse thought and inquiry, he and his wife, Bertha Michiyo McIntyre, have established a $500,000 bequest to fund scholarships for CU-Boulder neuroscience students who qualify for financial aid.
They have also established a $500,000 bequest to fund scholarships for students of economics, history, political science and philosophy who are focusing their studies on conservative thought, public policy, economics and leadership.
Impressed by CU-Boulder’s innovative Conservative Thought and Policy Program, now in its third year of hosting an annual visiting scholar, the McIntyres decided to enhance CU’s efforts to expose students to these “transformative concepts.”
McIntyre earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in psychology (the latter two in the neuroscience program) from CU-Boulder in 1977, ’83 and ’86, respectively. Then he served four years as a staff fellow in neuropharmacology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where he continued his doctoral research on the molecular mechanisms of alcohol and drug abuse.
After considering several academic appointments, he moved to the private sector to help pharmaceutical companies effectively navigate the pharmacologic, toxicologic and clinical requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its counterparts in Canada, Europe and Asia.
"You have to be very confident to say to government physicians, politely, ‘I understand your position, but I think you’re mistaken, and here’s why.’”
Today, McIntyre is vice president of regulatory affairs at DURECT Pharmaceuticals, where he is responsible for completion of studies necessary for a new drug to gain the FDA’s approval. In three decades, acting as the chief negotiator with the FDA for several companies, he has helped them win worldwide approval for well-known drugs including Risperdal, Consta, Invega, Effexor, Pristiq and Razadyne, which treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.
McIntyre attributes his early interest in psychology and the brain to a desire to better understand mental illness.
“As academia would have it,” McIntyre notes, “college curricula aim to give students a well-rounded education, and to do so they must typically fulfill the natural-sciences requirements.” He opted for an introductory course in molecular and cellular biology (MCDB) and one in biopsychology.
“I thought this stuff was really, really interesting.” Taking more classes only stoked his interest in neuroscience, a new but rapidly growing discipline.
For the last hundred years, McIntyre notes, scientists have been amassing ever-more-convincing evidence that human behavior and mental illness “were rooted in the brain’s cellular processes and interactions. Drugs, therapeutic or otherwise, exert their effects by activating or suppressing those neural processes.”
CU-Boulder was and continues to be an important hub of neuroscientific research. While scholars dating back to the Greeks had asked the right questions about human behavior, McIntyre says, the ability to identify the answers has broadened exponentially with technological innovations, which have engendered more questions.
For the research industry, the ability to transform large volumes of data (typically in excess of 100,000 pages, but now digital) into a compelling story and conclusion is a valuable commodity.
The reams of data cover medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, multiple clinical trials, statistics and manufacturing details.
“I discovered I had the ability to review data from multiple disciplines that other people had developed and distill it to its essence and integrate that across disciplines,” McIntyre says. “And if you can do that, you can be successful in the pharmaceutical industry.”
He also learned that he had a knack for negotiating with the FDA and other countries’ regulatory agencies. “Most scientists do not like negotiating, even when they think their own hypotheses and conclusions are correct. You have to be very confident to say to government physicians, politely, ‘I understand your position, but I think you’re mistaken, and here’s why.’”
He describes himself as having been “very liberal” while at CU-Boulder, but says that, as predicted by Winston Churchill, “I have become more conservative through the years.”
“I also realized that I had neglected a certain portion of my education. So during my frequent travel, I started studying the classics and the history of man’s efforts to govern, especially that which influenced America’s founding fathers. And of course working for and with the government for 30 years (his wife, Bertha, worked in the U.S. Senate) provides a much different perspective.”
He characterized the efforts as encouraging “a more balanced menu of options in Boulder.”
“What my wife and I want to do is say to students is that just as it is important to be exposed to other cultures and ideas, it’s equally important to be exposed to the great works of Western civilization and to actively debate those ‘ancient ideas’ vs. those holding sway today.
“Obviously, America makes many mistakes, and other countries do many things correctly, but there’s something quite unique about the evolution of Western civilization and its manifestation in America that has engendered and facilitated this idea of self-governance under written law as opposed to under a ruling class.”
To learn about how to help the University of Colorado through your estate planning, please contact Katy Herbert Kotlarczyk at 303-541-1205 or Katy.Kotlarczyk@cu.edu. For more information about the Center for Western Civilization and the Conservative Thought and Policy program, please contact Kimberly Bowman at 303-541-1446 or via email at email@example.com
Clint Talbott is director of communications and external relations for the College of Arts and Sciences and editor of the College of Arts and Sciences Magazine.