Thomas M. Williams, M.D., Passes

January 14, 2015 - Department of Pathology


Dr. Thomas M. Williams

From Douglas P. Clark, M.D., Frederick H. Harvey Chair and Professor of Pathology:

It is with much sadness that the UNM Department of Pathology announces the passing of Thomas Williams, M.D., former Chair and former Executive Vice Dean of the UNM School of Medicine. Tom Williams died Wednesday, January 7, 2015. His wife, Maggie, and the couple's three sons, Alex, Andrew and Henry, were with him throughout the day.

While many of you worked closely with Tom for years, I have only had that opportunity for a year. However, I've known Tom since 1989 when we were residents together at the University of Pennsylvania. As a resident Tom had the same smart and provocative sense of humor we've all experienced here. I also remember when Tom made the decision to return to New Mexico from Philadelphia. Tom was a very bright and accomplished resident who had many professional opportunities around the country, but he and Maggie chose New Mexico because of their love for this place and its people.

It's at times like this when many of us begin asking very fundamental questions about ourselves and our lives. For example: science and academic medicine – does it make a real difference? I think Tom's life provides some answers: First, Tom cared about patients, particularly those who are vulnerable or underserved. Second, Tom was a great educator who recognized that in some ways our students and trainees are our greatest opportunity to make an impact; they are our legacy. Third, Tom was an excellent scientist who embraced new areas, such as genomics, and translated them into practical new diagnostics. Finally, Tom cherished the community of people involved in all of these missions, and through his work as Chair and Executive Vice Dean he strived to make this community stronger. Tom saw academic medicine, despite its challenges, to be a privilege and an opportunity to make a difference in our world. Tom succeeded.

Tom's successful medical career started with his MD from UNM and continued with a pathology residency at the University of Pennsylvania. Tom joined the faculty of UNM Department of Pathology in the School of Medicine in 1991. A molecular pathologist and professor of pathology, Tom founded the first clinical molecular diagnostics laboratory at UNM Hospital. As a physician scientist, Tom's research centered on immunogenetics, the study of genes and proteins that control the immune response and the immune reaction to transplanted organs, such as kidneys and bone marrow. In 2008, Tom was appointed chair of the UNM Pathology Department. The department is among the top 10 in the U.S. with respect to grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. In July 2012, Tom was appointed executive vice dean of the UNM School of Medicine. Tom stepped away from the position in November 2014.

I owe Tom a great debt, for his advice, friendship, and service. Tom Williams will be missed dearly. I look forward to upholding Tom's legacy together.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 17, 2015 in Domenici Auditorium at 2:00 PM.


Douglas P. Clark, M.D.
Frederick H. Harvey Chair and Professor

To celebrate the life of Tom, the family has made arrangements for memorial gifts to be made to the University of New Mexico. Memorial contributions can be mailed to the UNM Foundation, Two Woodward Center, 700 Lomas Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102. The Dr. Thomas M. Williams & Margaret G. Williams Endowment for Education and Training has been established in his memory. You may also contact Bill Uher for additional information at (505) 277-4078.

View the Albuquerque Journal obituary