Albert H. Kim, MD, PhD, a professor of neurological surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named the inaugural William H. Danforth Washington University Physician Scholar. He is the first researcher named as part of the School of Medicine’s new Physician-Scientist Investigators Initiative, which aims to recruit and retain elite physician-scientists whose work has already indelibly changed their fields.
Kim is also a professor of genetics, of neurology and of developmental biology at the School of Medicine, and the inaugural director of the Brain Tumor Center at Siteman Cancer Center, based at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Kim’s pioneering research, which has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2012, has transformed our understanding of one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer, glioblastoma, as well as aggressive benign brain tumors such as meningioma.
“We are excited to launch the Bill Danforth WashU Physician-Scientist Investigator Initiative with the appointment of Dr. Albert Kim, a nationally recognized leader in the biology and treatment of brain tumors,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor. “WashU has long been home to some of the world’s finest physician-scientists. We continue to believe that the combination of a doctor’s deep knowledge of disease together with the method and potential of science provide a unique niche in advancing our efforts to improve the human condition. This initiative is an expansion, enhancement and differentiation that reflects our long-standing institutional commitment to developing the careers of physician-scientists. Dr. Kim’s impressive accomplishments as both a clinician and a researcher make him a wonderful role model as the first Danforth Physician Scholar.”
The Physician-Scientist Investigator Initiative targets MD and MD/PhD researchers at the associate or full professor rank with an established track record of exceptional research contributions and funding. The School of Medicine has committed $40 million over the next decade to be used as part of highly competitive recruitment and retention packages for such candidates. With seed funding from this commitment, the school’s clinical departments will aim to attract and retain the most talented physician-scientists in the U.S. and abroad.
The initiative was named in honor of William H. Danforth, MD, who served as the 13th chancellor of Washington University from 1971 to 1995. A cardiologist, Danforth joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1957 after completing residencies in medicine and pediatrics at Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, respectively. He rose through the professorial ranks at the School of Medicine before taking on administrative duties as vice chancellor for medical affairs. Along the way he did basic research in the laboratory of Nobel laureates Carl and Gerty Cori. During his chancellorship, Washington University significantly expanded resources for scholarship and scientific discovery, and completed its transition from a local college to a national research university.
“This program is designed to enrich the physician-scientist community here at WashU,” said Wayne M. Yokoyama, MD, the Sam J. Levin and Audrey Loew Levin Professor of Arthritis Research and the associate dean of the Division of Physician-Scientists. “The initiative will help clinical departments across the School of Medicine recruit and retain outstanding, innovative physician-scientists who have already made transformative discoveries and are poised to do even more to advance their fields.”