Stenson named Costrini Professor

William F. Stenson, M.D., has been named the Dr. Nicholas V. Costrini Professor of Gastroenterology & Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the School of Medicine.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton made the announcement with Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

William Stenson

“We are grateful to Nicholas and Coral Costrini for their generosity to Washington University in establishing this professorship,” Wrighton said. “Endowed professorships represent the cornerstone of our continuing efforts to recruit new faculty and to retain outstanding researchers and educators such as Dr. Stenson.”

“The Costrini Professorship will help support important research to help us better understand the causes of and potential therapies for inflammatory bowel disease, a condition that affects up to a million individuals in the United States,” Shapiro said. “And I am very pleased that my classmate, Bill Stenson, has the honor of being chosen as the first physician/scientist to hold this professorship.”

Nicholas V. Costrini, M.D., Ph.D., is medical director of the Georgia Gastroenterology Group. Costrini endowed the new professorship with his wife, Coral R. Costrini, who has served as the group’s chief financial officer.

Stenson, a 1971 graduate of the School of Medicine, joined the Division of Gastroenterology in 1979 following an internship and residency in medicine and fellowships in both gastroenterology and immunology. The major focus of his research involves the role of inflammation in intestinal injury and wound repair. He studies enzymes produced in response to injury, which, in turn, synthesize prostaglandins. The creation of prostaglandins is key to repairing damaged intestinal tissue. Prostaglandins also regulate immune response in the intestine.

Kenneth S. Polonsky, M.D., the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the John Milliken Department of Medicine, said Stenson’s research is vital to improving understanding of the causes of and potential solutions for inflammatory bowel disease.

“Bill Stenson brings a broad scientific perspective to his research and has taken his work in many directions over the years, from studies of prostaglandin synthesis to research into connections between celiac disease and osteoporosis,” Polonsky said. “It is entirely appropriate to support the work of such an outstanding physician and investigator, and this endowment guarantees such support in future years.”

A native of Rome, N.Y., Stenson graduated magna cum laude in 1967 from Providence College in Providence, R.I. He also served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and attained the rank of Major prior to his discharge in 1975. The rest of his medical career has been spent at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the School of Medicine. From 1981-1997, he was chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at the then Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, and in 1997-98, he was acting chief of gastroenterology at the School of Medicine. He is a 2007 National Institutes of Health MERIT Award winner.

“I am grateful for this honor, which recognizes the importance of the work we’ve done to better understand intestinal injury and disease,” Stenson said. “I’m also happy my future work will be connected with Dr. Costrini’s name. He did much of his post-graduate training at Washington University and the then Barnes Hospital during the same time that I was completing my training, so it’s nice to be associated in this way some 30 years later.”

Costrini came to the School of Medicine and Barnes Hospital in 1973. He served as an intern and resident and later chief resident in medicine, and completed fellowships in gastroenterology and in biological chemistry. Since 1981, he has been in private practice in Savannah, Ga., as director of several hospital digestive disease units and built and directed the Georgia Center for Digestive Diseases, the endoscopy center attached to his solo private practice, the Georgia Gastroenterology Group PC, the largest solo digestive disease practice in the South.