Kelle Moley named James Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Kelle H. Moley, M.D., a world-renowned reproductive biologist, has been named the first James P. Crane Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Moley, vice chair for basic science research and director of the Division of Basic Science Research in obstetrics and gynecology, was installed in the new professorship at a ceremony June 10.

The professorship is named in honor of James P. Crane, M.D., associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, who has a long list of accomplishments since joining the University’s faculty in 1977. He spearheaded the development of the Washington University Physicians Network, the largest independent physicians’ association in the St. Louis area, and organized and now directs the Faculty Practice Plan, the fifth largest academic medical practice in the United States. He also led the effort for the Campus Integration Plan, a new vision for the Medical Center that included building the Center for Advanced Medicine to house 14 multidisciplinary clinical centers.

Additionally, Crane established the first prenatal diagnosis program in Missouri and helped start the state’s first in vitro fertilization (IVF) program, leading to the birth of Missouri’s first IVF baby in 1985.

“Jim Crane’s outstanding leadership has led to dramatic improvements in the clinical operations of the School of Medicine and the Medical Center,” says Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “Jim is a tremendous asset to Washington University. He has a remarkable talent for bringing together people with diverse skills and agendas for a common purpose.”

Wrighton and Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, jointly announced the appointment.

“We are very fortunate to have Jim Crane at the helm of our clinical operations,” Shapiro says. “He brings outstanding leadership to deal with the constant changes in health care and understands the factors that affect our ability to remain a premier medical center. It would be hard to find anyone who has done more to contribute to the success of Washington University as a center of clinical excellence.”

This professorship was funded through gifts from 14 medical school departments, BJC Healthcare, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, chancellor emeritus William H. Danforth, M.D., and Richard A. Chole, M.D., Ph.D., the Lindburg Professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology.

“I’m extremely honored and humbled to be appointed the first Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology,” Moley says. “Jim Crane’s commitment to providing the latest in medical care and improving the health and lives of people has set a standard we all hope to achieve in our careers.”

Moley, also a professor of cell biology and physiology, is one of a handful of people in the world studying the effects of maternal type 1 and type 2 diabetes on the implantation and development of murine embryos and how this may be applicable to the pathophysiology of diabetes in humans.

Her work has established that short-term exposure to high concentrations of glucose or insulin during the first 72 hours after fertilization can alter development and result in the increase of congenital malformations and miscarriages, as seen in women with diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

“Kelle Moley’s research has led to important insights and medical discoveries of relevance to human health and well being,” Crane says. “In addition to being a renowned reproductive biologist, Kelle is a gifted teacher and skilled clinician.”

She also is known for cloning and characterizing two novel glucose transporters, GLUT8 and GLUT9, the latter of which she discovered in collaboration with her husband, Jeffrey Moley, M.D., professor of surgery at the School of Medicine. Her work on these proteins demonstrates altered location and expression of these transporters in response to insulin exposure and diabetes, respectively.

Additionally, she recently has determined that GLUT9 is a high capacity-urate transporter, and polymorphisms in this gene are associated with elevated serum uric acid levels in humans.

“This is a great honor for Jim Crane, who has been a leader nationally in women’s health and has been critical to the health of St. Louisans,” says George A. Macones, M.D., the Mitchell and Elaine Yanow Professor and head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the School of Medicine and chief of obstetrics-gynecology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “Kelle Moley is a tremendous physician scientist, unraveling the effect of diabetes on early pregnancy failure. We are honored to have her as the first holder of the Crane professorship.”

Moley is director of the fellowship program in reproductive endocrinology and the clinical mentorship program for the University’s Markey Pathway, a graduate program that provides students with a deeper understanding of the nature of disease. She also is co-principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health grant to train future reproductive biologists.

She joined the University faculty in 1992 as an instructor in obstetrics and gynecology.

Moley earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and a medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine. She then completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology in 1992 and a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology/fertility in 1994, both at the School of Medicine. She also completed two postdoctoral fellowships between 1993 and 1998 in the laboratories of Oliver Lowry, M.D., Ph.D., in molecular biology and pharmacology, and Mike Mueckler, Ph.D., in cell biology and physiology.

As the FPP’s chief executive officer, Crane is responsible for establishing strategic direction and coordinating clinical programs across the School of Medicine’s clinical departments. He also oversees the implementation of school-wide standards of clinical care and key services to help clinical departments provide the best patient care.

In the greater community, Crane is actively involved in efforts to eliminate health disparities and improve access to care for the uninsured. He serves on the board of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission and chairs the Commission’s Access To Care Committee. Crane also serves on the board of St. Louis ConnectCare and is past chair of the St. Louis Integrated Health Care Network, a community-wide organization composed of the area’s major safety-net institutions whose purpose is to coordinate and enhance care for vulnerable populations.

Crane earned a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree from Indiana University in 1966 and 1970, respectively. He then completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Barnes Hospital in 1973 and two fellowships, one in maternal-fetal medicine at the School of Medicine in 1974 and one in clinical genetics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1977.

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.