DIA 60th Anniversary
Executive, Editor, and Essential: Remembering Thomas W. Teal

n 1964, the Drug Information Association (DIA) was founded by a group of 30 pharmaceutical professionals, medical writers, and academicians who saw the need to facilitate communications and collaboration among professionals engaged in drug development, medical communications, and health information. (Read Six Decades of Impact: DIA’s Global Journey for a more detailed historical overview.) Tom Teal was the driving force behind DIA for many of the early years and beyond.

Early efforts of the fledgling organization focused on convening the DIA annual meeting and on publishing the Drug Information Bulletin, which was renamed the Drug Information Journal in 1967. The organization was incorporated in the state of Maryland as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) in 1972.

From the early 1970s into the 1990s, Commander USN (Retired) Thomas W. Teal played a critical role in DIA’s establishment and growth by serving as DIA executive director from 1979 to 1991, and as editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed Drug Information Journal (DIJ) from 1983 to 2001. Under Teal’s leadership, DIA membership and educational activities increased substantially and extended throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

When Teal retired as DIJ editor-in-chief at the end of 2001, DIA Past Presidents and DIJ Editorial Board members David Cocchetto and Roger Croswell thanked Teal for his role as one of DIA’s founders, as DIA executive director, and as DIJ editor-in-chief, in a letter published in the October 2001 Journal.

“Mr. Teal is one of the parents of DIA, and he has played an essential role in the organization’s origin, growth through adolescence, and expansion,” they wrote. “Tom has blessed the association with his leadership, mentorship, honesty, salesmanship, professionalism, and dedication. More than any other individual, Tom saw the opportunity for a journal to serve the members of this fledgling organization in the 1960s and 1970s.”

In September 2002, Teal returned to help celebrate the opening of DIA’s new worldwide headquarters in Horsham, Pennsylvania. This celebration included the dedication of the custom-built, digital Thomas W. Teal Multimedia Board Room featuring a formal portrait of Teal painted by Rod Arbogast, whose work has been featured in National Geographic.

Close-up indoor photograph perspective of Tom Teal in a grey blazer suit and white closed button-up dress shirt with a dark blue tie as he holds an unveiling dark blue blanket cover where Tom is glancing at his unveiling formal portrait illustrative picture frame while he stands opposite Carol Layer at the DIA headquarters

“Tom’s legacy is DIA’s continuing commitment to serve our members and mankind,” explained DIA’s then-Executive Director Joseph R. (Bob) Assenzo in his welcoming speech. “All of us who work for DIA are committed to continuing his legacy of service to mankind.”

Former DIA Board member Françoise de Crémiers, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, called Teal “the father of the DIA presence in Europe”.

Teal’s daughter Carol Layer served as a member of DIA staff and executive leadership for more than 25 years. “From you I learned the meaning of dedication, commitment, and hard work,” Carol said at the Teal Room dedication. “I learned how much you can give of yourself to something that you really care about.”

“Members have made DIA what it is,” said Teal in his dedication remarks. “If members continue to help DIA, and I’m sure they will, DIA has a great future.”

Carol retired from DIA in 2010. Thomas W. Teal passed away in June 2011. He was survived by his wife of more than 65 years, Catherine Elizabeth Teal, his daughter Carol, his son Thomas W. Teal, Jr., four grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

DIA honored him with a memorial presentation during the opening plenary session of the DIA 2011 Annual Meeting in Chicago and an “In Memoriam” published in the July 2011 DIJ.

In 2013, DIA relaunched the DIJ as Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science to reflect the organization’s new and expanded scope, including post-market safety, patient engagement, devices and diagnostics, and drug-device combination products.

Like the organization he helped to build, Tom Teal’s legacy is strong, enduring, and sustainable.

Close-up indoor photograph perspective of Tom Teal in a grey blazer suit and white closed button-up dress shirt with a dark blue tie as he holds a glass cup with champagne inside the glass while Tom stands on a staircase step with his left arm on the guardrail at the DIA headquarters