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Carolyn Slayman

Sterling Professor of Genetics and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology; Deputy Dean for Academic & Scientific Affairs

Contact Information

Carolyn Slayman

Mailing Address

  • PO Box 208000, 333 Cedar Street

    New Haven, CT, 06520-8005

    United States

Carolyn Slayman
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It is with the deepest regret that I write to inform you that Carolyn Walch Slayman, PhD, deputy dean for academic and scientific affairs, passed away on Tuesday, December 27, 2016. She had been undergoing treatment for recurrent breast cancer since early December.

For almost 50 years Carolyn has been a valued faculty member and leader at the medical school whose wisdom and guidance influenced scores of students, trainees, and colleagues. Although she was humble about her considerable accomplishments, she was in many ways a pioneer. She was the first woman to head a department when she was named chair of the Department of Human Genetics (now Genetics) in 1984. In 1995, she became our first Deputy Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs. During her tenure, many of us came to rely upon her unerring judgment and were inspired by her passion for research, education, and mentoring.

Carolyn graduated from Swarthmore College in 1958 with highest honors in biology and chemistry. She earned a PhD in biochemical genetics from Rockefeller University, where she was the only woman in her class, and was a postdoctoral fellow in membrane biochemistry at Cambridge University. Following a brief stint as assistant professor at Case Western Reserve, she joined Yale as assistant professor in the departments of microbiology and physiology in 1967. She helped to establish the graduate program in the nascent Department of Human Genetics in 1972 and served as director of graduate studies in genetics from 1972 to 1984. She once said that because her policy was to admit the best candidates, there were equal numbers of men and women, an anomaly at that time. As Sterling Professor of Genetics and professor of cellular and molecular physiology, she was highly regarded for her research on genes that encode membrane transport proteins. In 1984, she was named chair of the department, serving in that position for 11 years.

In 1995 she was appointed deputy dean for academic and scientific affairs, a position she would hold to the present. In this role, she oversaw academic and scientific affairs at the school, focusing her attention on faculty recruitment and development, and the creation and advancement of research programs and core facilities. She helped create many of the medical school's cores, including the Yale Center for Genome Analysis at the West Campus, and was instrumental in Yale's applications for many institutional grants. Perhaps most noteworthy was her critical role in the successful application and subsequent renewals of our NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award.

The first scientist in a family of teachers, Carolyn combined science and education throughout her career. Her commitment to the training and education of young scientists was unwavering. After almost half a century, she retained her enthusiasm for recruiting and nurturing promising faculty members. Her colleagues, both junior and senior, never failed to learn from her.

It is difficult to overstate Carolyn's influence on the School of Medicine and the many individuals that have passed through our doors. She touched every aspect of our organization and embodied the best of what we try to accomplish each and every day. Her unflappable nature, keen intelligence, sense of humor, and ability to hone in on a solution regardless of the problem at hand will be sorely missed. On a personal level, I worked side by side with Carolyn for the past 13 years and will be forever grateful for her counsel and friendship.

Carolyn was devoted to her family and the New Haven community. She leaves behind her husband of 57 years, Clifford L. Slayman, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular physiology, and her children Andrew Slayman and Rachel Platonov.

We are planning a memorial service in the spring to honor her memory and will keep you apprised of the details. In the meantime, I know you will join me in mourning the loss of our esteemed colleague and extending our sincerest condolences to her family.


Robert J. Alpern, MD
Dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine

Education & Training

  • PhD
    Rockefeller University (1963)


  • YALE-UCL Collaborative
    London, United Kingdom 2011
    Dr. Slayman is on the Joint Strategy Committee for the Yale-UCL Collaborative, an alliance which will provide opportunities for high-level scientific research, clinical and educational collaboration across the institutions involved: Yale University, Yale School of Medicine, Yale-New Haven Hospital and UCL (University College London) and UCL Partners.

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