Deepak Bhalla, Wayne State University’s dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, died early Friday, university officials announced.

Bhalla, 71, dedicated 23 years to working with students while researching the pulmonary toxicology of air pollutants and chronic lung disease.

Bhalla was described by his colleagues as a kind and caring person who left his mark on the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“I think Dean Bhalla used his time wisely to make the university a better place by epitomizing civility and caring about his fellow man and woman,” said Keith Whitfield, the university’s provost. “I hope we can each follow his example.”

University spokesman Matt Lockwood said Friday afternoon he had no further details about Bhalla’s death.

Bhalla joined the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 1995 and was appointed dean in 2016. Whitfield said Bhalla led the school in an “inclusive and consultative manner.”

Before Wayne State, Bhalla served on the faculty at the University of California in Irvine.

He has degrees in biology and cell biology from Punjab University and a doctorate in cell biology from Howard University.

Bhalla’s research, colleagues say, was widely published.

“For me, he will be remembered as a dear person and will be dearly missed,” said Richard Lucarotti, associate dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “He showed a lot of dedication and had a very caring approach not just to students, but to the university as a whole.”

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson released a statement Friday, saying the university was “shocked and saddened” to learn of Bhalla’s passing.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to our university community, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and, most of all, his family and friends,” Wilson said. “Dean Bhalla was a dedicated scholar and educator, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him.”

University officials say they are partnering with the employee assistance program Ulliance to offer grief support for employees in the wake of Bhalla’s death.

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