Sandell named Simon Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Linda J. Sandell, Ph.D., has been named the Mildred B. Simon Research Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.


“Linda Sandell is a very talented scientist who has contributed a great deal to Washington University and to our understanding of the basic cellular mechanisms behind diseases of the connective tissues,” said Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “I am grateful for the work of Dr. Sandell and for the generosity of the late Mildred Simon, whose thoughtful gift has helped to make this important research possible.”

Sandell was installed as the Simon Research Professor by Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Mildred Simon was tremendously generous to Washington University,” Shapiro said. “She established multiple professorships and made significant contributions to both faculty and students. The creation of endowments remains vital to the School of Medicine’s goal of recruiting and keeping top-quality researchers and clinicians, and Linda Sandell is one of the top researchers in the field of orthopaedic surgery.”

The Simon professorship will help provide financial support to allow Sandell to advance her research on the molecular mechanisms involved in cartilage development and disease. Her laboratory studies gene regulation of extracellular matrix proteins and the mechanisms related to protein expression in cartilage, bone, muscle and fat cells. She also has a long-standing interest in the cellular mechanisms associated with bone formation as well as osteoarthritis, a potentially disabling cartilage disease.

“We are very fortunate to have a scientist of Linda Sandell’s caliber in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,” said Richard H. Gelberman, M.D., the Fred C. Reynolds Professor and head of the department. “Our department is able to link top-flight surgeons with cutting-edge scientists, and both are represented in professorships endowed by Mrs. Simon.”

Simon was an active philanthropist who was especially generous to Washington University School of Medicine. Born in Newport, Ark., she settled in St. Louis with her husband, Herbert Simon. He was an executive of J. Simon and Sons, a business founded in 1899 by his father, Jacob Simon. Herbert Simon died in 1940 at the age of 55.

Mildred Simon died in 1998 at the age of 105, leaving a significant bequest to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Her gift endowed two other professorships: K. Daniel Riew, M.D., chief of cervical spine surgery, is the Mildred B. Simon Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Lawrence G. Lenke, M.D., co-chief of adult and pediatric spine surgery, is the Jerome J. Gilden Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. Gilden earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Washington University, and Simon endowed a professorship in his name after he cared for her when she broke her hip in her 60s. The two became good friends.

Mildred Simon’s generosity to Washington University also established the Herbert and Mildred Simon Scholarship Fund benefiting art and architecture students. She also was a devoted member of Temple Israel, where a Scholar-in-Residence Fund bears her name.

Sandell, the new Simon Research Professor, also is a professor of cell biology and physiology.

She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Denver University and her doctorate in biochemistry from Northwestern University in 1980. She did postdoctoral work in molecular biology at the University of Chicago and then spent time as a faculty member at Rush Medical College in Chicago and at the University of Washington in Seattle, before coming to Washington University School of Medicine in 1997 as a professor and director of research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

“I am honored and grateful to receive this type of recognition, which I believe helps to recognize the entire research effort in our department,” Sandell said. “We are fortunate to have many outstanding scientists making important contributions to the understanding of health and disease in bone and connective tissue, and they are responsible for making the department one of the very best in the United States. I am grateful to be singled out for this honor, but I am just as proud to be a member of such an outstanding team.”

Sandell is an author of more than 160 publications, including three books. She also has five patents and is active in many professional societies and organizations. She has been invited to lecture all over the world and has chaired three prestigious Gordon Conferences and is a co-founder of the Cartilage Gordon Conference. She is a past president of the Orthopaedic Research Society, the Histochemical Society and the Society for Matrix Biology, and is president-elect of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International.

She received the Kappa Delta Award for Basic Science Research from the American Association for Orthopaedic Surgeons and has served on the Advisory Council of the National Institute for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. She is deputy editor of the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, associate editor of the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry and of Connective Tissue Research, and she is a member of the editorial boards for many other Journals including Arthritis Research and Care, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching, and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.