Peck is first recipient of Wolff distinguished professorship

William A. Peck, M.D., has been named the first Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine.

Peck, dean of the School of Medicine and executive vice chancellor for medical affairs for 14 years, will continue in that capacity until June 30.

William Peck
William Peck

Afterward, he will establish a center for health policy at the University.

The professorship was established by Edith Wolff, president of Wolff Construction Co.

“Bill Peck has done an exceptional job guiding the School of Medicine during a period of high expectations and extraordinary challenges,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “It seems appropriate that, as one of the University’s most distinguished leaders, he be recognized with a position bestowed by Edith Wolff, one of the University’s most cherished contributors. We are extremely fortunate to have such a generous supporter whose gifts have already facilitated critical medical research.”

Under Peck’s leadership, the School of Medicine has emerged as the nation’s most academically selective medical school, and was recently ranked second overall in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report.

The medical school’s federal research support also has increased dramatically in the past decade.

Peck is a nationally recognized health-care leader. He recently completed terms as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and as chair of the AAMC Council of Deans.

In addition to serving on multiple journal editorial boards, Peck is a scientific adviser for several companies and organizations throughout the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

A renowned internist, Peck is recognized for his research on bone and mineral metabolism. He has written more than 100 scientific publications about bone cell function and the causes of osteoporosis.

He developed the first method for directly studying the structure, function and growth of bone cells and determined mechanisms by which hormones regulate bone function.

Peck was the founding president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and has served in leadership positions of several other national organizations, including the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and has been an adviser to such organizations as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

His numerous awards and honors include an NIH Career Program Award, the Washington University Clinical Teacher of the Year Award and the FDA Commissioner’s Award. He also received an honorary degree in 2000 from his medical school alma mater, the University of Rochester, and is listed in Who’s Who in America.

“It is a high honor and privilege to be the inaugural holder of the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff distinguished professorship,” Peck said. “Edith Wolff is a wonderful person and one of the great supporters of our institution as well as many vital community agencies and activities.”

Peck earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Harvard College in 1954 and a medical degree with honors in 1960 from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He was an intern and resident at Barnes Hospital and completed two fellowships in metabolism, one at the University and the other at the NIH.

He spent 10 years on the faculty at Rochester before joining the School of Medicine in 1976 as the John E. and Adaline Simon Professor of Medicine, co-chairman of the Department of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Jewish Hospital.

Peck later became the first person to serve as both dean of the medical school and executive vice chancellor for medical affairs.

Edith Wolff is a strong supporter of the medical school, and her gifts have supported several areas of research, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

She is a life member of the Eliot Society and a member of the Danforth Circle.

She also endowed the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Medicine in 1999, currently held by cancer research specialist Timothy Ley, M.D.

A native of St. Louis, Wolff succeeded her husband, Alan, as president of Wolff Construction Co. after his death in 1989.

As part of her commitment to contribute to the welfare of the community, Wolff has served on the boards of numerous charitable organizations, including the Jewish Center for the Aged, the Metropolitan Employment and Rehabilitation Services of Missouri’s Goodwill Industries and the St. Louis Association of Retarded Citizens.

In 1996, the Life Skills Foundation honored Wolff for her philanthropic contributions to the community, and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Rehabilitation Association presented her with the Jane Strauss Memorial Community Service Award.

The following year, Wolff was awarded the Goldstein-Fleishman Geriatric Excellence Award from the Jewish Center for the Aged.

Wolff has also been recognized by the University for her generosity with the Robert S. Brookings Award in 1996 and the medical school’s 2nd Century Award in 1997.