Yale H. Caplan, PhD: AAFS Gradwohl Laureate


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The R.B.H. Gradwohl Medallion is the Academy’s highest honor to be bestowed on one who has made an exceptional contribution to the field of forensic science. It is a distinct pleasure to announce that Dr. Yale H. Caplan has been selected by the AAFS Board of Directors as the newest AAFS Gradwohl Laureate. Dr. Caplan has served the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the forensic science profession for more than 50 years. He is considered to be one of the most highly regarded experts in the field of Forensic Toxicology.

Dr. Caplan received his bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and PhD degree in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Maryland at Baltimore (School of Pharmacy). He was elected into AAFS membership in the Toxicology Section in 1973, was promoted to Member in 1975, and to Fellow in 1976. He served as AAFS President in 1987–1988, previously holding numerous offices and committee appointments, including Toxicology Section Secretary and Chair, AAFS Treasurer, Nominating Committee, FSF Board of Trustees, AAFS Ethics Committee, Awards Committee, Bylaws Committee, and Long Term Planning Committee. Dr. Caplan served on the Journal of Forensic Sciences Editorial Board from 1984 through 2009. Dr. Caplan was the recipient of the Toxicology Section’s Rolla N. Harger Award in 1989 for outstanding contributions to forensic toxicology. Dr. Caplan was named AAFS Distinguished Fellow in 1996 for a lifetime of service to the forensic sciences profession.

Dr. Caplan came to the State of Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as an Assistant Toxicologist in 1969 and served as Chief Toxicologist and Scientific Director of the State of Maryland’s Alcohol Testing Program from 1974 to 1991. He was Director of Toxicology and Forensic Toxicology for Quest Diagnostics, Incorporated (formerly Maryland Medical Laboratory) in Baltimore from 1977 to 1999. He then served as Laboratory Director for the State of Maryland, Division of Parole and Probation (1999–2012).

Dr. Caplan was also an active educator. He directed a graduate program in forensic toxicology at the University of Maryland Baltimore and mentored 17 masters and doctoral students. Two of Dr. Caplan’s doctoral students, Marina Stajic and Bruce Goldberger, went on to become AAFS Presidents. Dr. Caplan also trained hundreds of medical review officers responsible for reviewing federal drug tests as well as hundreds of alcohol breath test operators in Maryland.

Dr. Caplan is currently a consulting forensic toxicologist. He is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and a consultant for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA) Division of Workplace Programs. He is a member of the Forensic Laboratory Accreditation Committee for the State of Maryland appointed by the State’s Governor.

Dr. Caplan’s professional activities and awards include: President of the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (2008–2012); President of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (1988–2008) and recipient of ABFT’s Distinguished Service Award; President of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (1981); Chairman (1991–1993) of the National Safety Council’s Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs (now Alcohol and Drug Impairment Division) and the recipient of the Council’s Robert F. Borkenstein Award (2000); Chairman of the Maryland Section of the American Chemical Society (1973) and recipient of the 1994 Maryland Chemist Award. He is Emeritus Associate Editor of the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. He serves as an advisor to attorneys and companies regarding alcohol and drug testing issues.

Congratulations to the Academy’s 16th Gradwohl Laureate, Dr. Yale Caplan!