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.

Kelle Moley

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 (FPP), 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,” said 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.”

“We are very fortunate to have Jim Crane at the helm of our clinical operations,” said Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “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,” he said.

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.

Moley, vice chair for basic science research and director of the Division of Basic Science Research in obstetrics and gynecology and 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 mouse 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 said.

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. Her work on these proteins demonstrates altered location and expression of these transporters in response to insulin exposure and diabetes, respectively.

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.

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 standards to help provide the best patient care.