October 5, 2007

In Memoriam: James Hazlett, Jr., Ph.D.

Wayne State University School of Medicine Interim Dean Robert Frank was saddened to announce the death of Dr. James Hazlett, assistant dean for basic science education, on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

An associate professor of anatomy and cell biology, Dr. Hazlett jointed the WSU faculty in 1980, and had been instrumental in the design and implementation of the medical school curriculum. He served as course director for medical neuroscience and gross anatomy -- two critically important comprehensive areas that are required of all medical students -- and taught dissection, anatomy, neuropharmacology and neuroanatomy. In addition, Dr. Hazlett was a member of the School of Medicine Admissions Committee for the past 14 years.

He was named assistant dean in 2001 after serving for years on the Curriculum Committee and taking a critical role in development of the current Years I and II curriculum.

"Dr. Hazlett provided outstanding learning experiences to Wayne State University medical students, graduate students, fellow scientists and physicians during more than 30 years of service," Dr. Frank said. "He earned the utmost respect and admiration of all those who were fortunate to be taught by him or work with him through the years. He will be sorely missed."

A much beloved teacher, Dr. Hazlett had been recognized with dozens of teaching awards and was chosen Teacher of the Year on numerous occasions. He was selected by the medical students as the Grand Marshall for the commencement exercises in 2004. The Medical Alumni Association presented him with the Lawrence Weiner Award, honoring a non-alumnus, in 1997.

Dr. Hazlett's research interests included comparative neuroanatomy of somatic sensory systems and basal ganglia, for which he had received funding from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Hazlett provided national and state leadership to the Society for Neurosciences and was an ad hoc member of the National Grant Review Board for the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Daniel Michael, a former medical and graduate student, recalled that Dr. Hazlett was an outstanding mentor and teacher. "Jim is always able to get more from his students than they believe possible," Dr. Michael was quoted in a School of Medicine publication. "He demands in-depth knowledge and rigorous scientific method while demonstrating a genuine compassion for students as human beings."

After earning a master's degree in anatomy from the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Hazlett completed a doctorate in anatomy at Ohio State University in 1971. He joined the Department of Anatomy as an assistant professor and served for seven years. He then took a faculty appointment at Loyola University of Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine and returned to WSU in 1980.

Dr. Hazlett's is survived by his wife, Dr. Linda Hazlett, chair of anatomy and cell biology, their son, and a grandson.

Visitation will be tomorrow, Feb. 24, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a prayer service at 7 p.m., in Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. A funeral will be at 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 25, at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church, which is next to Verheyden Funeral Home. For more information, please call (313) 881-8500.