Saint Francis High School Honors the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Thomas P. Davis ’69, 2012 Distinguished Alumnus, during the Second Quarter Academic Awards Night on January 31, 2012

St. Francis High School was honored to announce the selection of Dr. Thomas P. Davis ’69 as the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus during the Second Quarter Academic Awards Night on January 31, 2012. The St. Francis community was privileged to welcome this extraordinary man back home again, and present him with the annual Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dr. Davis was selected for this honor because of his exemplary service to others in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and in the true fashion of a Golden Knight. During the awards ceremony, Dr. Davis spoke to those in attendance about the importance of perseverance in all we do. With all that he has accomplished, Dr. Davis admitted that he too has experienced failure. In response to life’s challenges and failures, Dr. Davis stressed that the key to persevering is having a positive support system like the brotherhood built at St. Francis between classmates. To help strengthen his point, over fifteen of his classmates from the graduating class of 1969 joined him to celebrate his accomplishment. Their presence served as a testament to the deep bonds of brotherhood that were forged some 43 years ago on the very same campus. Such a brotherhood continues to form an important support system, as much for successes as it does for times when perseverance is needed, and this message was very well received by the St. Francis community.

Dr. Thomas P. Davis ‘69

Dr. Davis entered St. Francis High School in the fall of 1965. During his four years, he participated in a variety of activities, including football and track, along with being a member of various clubs on campus. He graduated in the spring of 1969 and continued on to Loyola University (now LMU) where he earned a degree in Biology. His passion for science led him to continue his education, and he went on to earn a Masters in Physiology from UNLV, and his PhD in Physiology and Analytical Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is the recipient of various awards and honors in his field, among them a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, a member of Who’s Who in the West, U.S., and a member of the distinguished Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society.

After completing his education, he jumped right into the field as a chemist. His early work would set the stage for a long and prosperous career in both the professional landscape as well as in the world of academia. Professionally, after a short stint at Abbott Laboratories, he joined Hansen Beverage Company in 1981 as a technical director, and has been there ever since. Among various achievements, he is credited with developing the first “shelf stable” formulation and production process for “all natural” and preservative-free soda, which has been key to Hansen’s brand. More recently he developed the first Energy and Functional Performance beverage line for the company…you may better know it as the Monster Energy Drink.

He also founded, and has since directed, a Laboratory at the University of Arizona’s School of Medicine for the past 30 years, which focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation of brain related diseases, including strokes, traumatic brain injuries including concussions, and inflammatory pain management. He has also been on the faculty at the University where he has taught over 17 different courses, from Pharmacology to Molecular and Cellular Biology. His commitment to the study of neuroscience, and his expertise in the field, has led him to consult and collaborate with a dozen of the major pharmaceutical companies in the country, as well as various local and state agencies, and he has served as “expert witness” in many cases throughout his tenure. He has been published in over 200 text books and journals, spoken at over 50 conferences and seminars, and has been the recipient of over $20 Million in research grants, from both public and private enterprises.

His greatest legacy in the world of academia is that of his students. From his Lab alumni alone, he proudly counts 5 MD students, 12 PhD students, 3 Masters students, 25 post-doctoral fellows, and 30 undergraduates, and again this represents only those students who worked with him in his Lab.

His dedication to his Catholic roots, and education in general, is evident in his involvement on the Board of Directors of Salpoint Catholic High School in Tucson, Arizona, where he served for 6 years, both as a member of the board as well as part of their strategic planning committee. He has also served his local Rotary and Optimist Clubs, and for his Alma Mater, he has supported the St. Francis Golf Classic for the last 23 years.

It is evident through his work, that each moment of his life is filled with the opportunity to learn, and to teach. And through his action, he has brought so much good to so many people, while crafting a wonderful legacy that will continue to follow him. The St. Francis community would like to reiterate that it is honored and privileged to welcome this alumnus back home again, and present him with our Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2012.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Andy Burghdorf at (818) 790-0325 ext. 513 or e-mail

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