MADISON / CONCORD, Mass.—Dr. Teresa Gayle Compton, age 60, died peacefully in her home in Concord, Mass., on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. She was born in Kingsport, Tenn., on April 12, 1958, to Norman and Martha Compton. Teresa gave birth to a son, Derek Day, in 1988. In 2004 she married Doug Stockstad, in Madison, Wis.
Teresa graduated from Greenville High School, Greenville, Tenn., and then attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and a Doctor of Philosophy in Cellular and Molecular Biology. She did her Postdoctoral Research in Cell Biology at New York University Medical Center, New York, N.Y.
She began her working career at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif., and then joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wis. She later moved to the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research in the School of Medicine, rising to associate professor and then professor in the Department of Oncology.
While at the School of Medicine, Teresa served as chair of both the Human Cancer Virology Program, and the university’s largest interdisciplinary graduate program in Cellular and Molecular Biology. She held numerous other campus leadership roles. She also organized international workshops, and delivered many national and international research presentations. She trained many Ph.D. graduates while running a research laboratory, awarded several U.S patents and had over 70 published papers. Her research focus was Virology and Infectious Disease, particularly the Herpes Virus, in which she was known as an international expert.
In 2005 Teresa was recruited out of academia to industry to join Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Mass., the research arm of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, to be executive director, Infectious Disease. There she built a new research group that moved multiple drugs into clinical development, and assumed various leadership roles in internal strategy development and external opportunity evaluation.
Then in 2011, she left Novartis and joined Biogen Idec, Cambridge, Mass., a large biotechnology company, as vice president of Translational Sciences and Virology. After leaving Biogen, Teresa served as chief scientific officer for small biotechnology companies, and did biopharma industry consulting.
While she was working in the private sector, Teresa continued to have academic ties by serving on various boards. She served as chair of the Board of Visitors for the Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Morgridge Institute for Research, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, and on the Academic Advisory Board for Interdisciplinary Institute, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Mass.
Teresa had a special gift and personal interest in mentoring people. She guided many students in her academic research laboratory, most whom have gone on to successful scientific careers, and with whom she continued to have contact long after they left campus. She continued mentoring when she went to industry, imparting her academic experience and sharp instincts to the many employees she supervised.
She was a bright, engaging person that people were naturally drawn to, in part because she never lost the Southern charm she learned growing up in Tennessee. She loved being around family and friends. Cooking was a particular interest of hers, one that she passed on to her son. Teresa also enjoyed interior design, which she expressed in the new homes she and Doug built in 2011 and 2016. She had a soft spot for animals, and dearly loved the dogs that were part of her family.
Teresa is survived by her parents, Norman and Martha Compton, of Tellico Village, Tenn.; brother, John (Cindy) Compton of Knoxville, Tenn.; son, Derek Day of Tewksbury, Mass.; and husband, Doug Stockstad of Concord, Mass. She was preceded in death by her sister, Marcia Compton Swallows, formerly of Cookeville, Tenn.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the UT Foundation for the Microbiology Enrichment Fund in memory of Dr. Teresa Compton. Checks can be sent to Don Eisenberg, 137 UT AMB, Knoxville, Tenn. 37996-1331, or online at the Microbiology website at https://micro.utk.edu/ under the “Give to Microbiology” tab.
Her service will be held at 11 a.m., on Friday, May 18, 2018, at the SEQUOYAH HILLS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH in Knoxville, Tenn. A celebration of life will be held at the home of John and Cindy Compton immediately after the service.