Four faculty members at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences. They are Opeolu M. Adeoye, MD; Farshid Guilak, PhD; David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD; and Jonathan Kipnis, PhD. Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
Adeoye, Guilak, Gutmann and Kipnis are among 100 new members whose election to the academy was announced Oct. 17. Members of the organization elect new members based on their contributions to advancing public health, health care and medical science. All members volunteer to serve on committees examining a broad range of health policy issues.
Opeolu M. Adeoye
Adeoye is the BJC HealthCare Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine and head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Washington University. He specializes in understanding acute brain injuries with a particular focus on improving therapies and long-term outcomes for patients who have suffered strokes.
A noted physician-scientist, he has extensive experience conducting and leading clinical trials, including holding leadership positions in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials focused on optimizing treatments for ischemic stroke. His research is aimed at pinpointing pathways that play a role in stroke recovery and response to treatment, with the goal of developing new therapies for stroke.
Adeoye’s research — which includes a focus on how the delivery of proven health-care interventions could be optimized — has led to recognition of disparities in stroke care access and delivery in the United States. Adeoye was the lead author of the most recent Stroke Systems of Care policy statement issued by the American Stroke Association.
Adeoye has held leadership roles in several societies, including the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the American Heart Association and the Neurocritical Care Society. He serves on the editorial board of Stroke Journal. He has been recognized for excellence in teaching and mentorship of trainees and junior faculty members throughout his career.
Guilak is the Mildred B. Simon Research Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and co-director of the Washington University Center of Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in the study of arthritis, working to uncover factors that contribute to the onset and progression of the disorder, with an eye toward developing new drugs and stem cell therapies that may be used as treatments. He also is a professor of developmental biology and of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering and materials science in the McKelvey School of Engineering.
Guilak’s team has developed techniques to grow cartilage from patients’ donor cells and eventually create living joint replacements using that cartilage to treat arthritis in the hip. His team also pioneered the use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to engineer SMART cells (Stem cells Modified for Autonomous Regenerative Therapy) with synthetic gene circuits that can secrete biologic drugs in response to factors such as inflammation or mechanical loading related to arthritis. Guilak’s team used the CRISPR technology to remove a key gene involved in inflammation and replace it with a gene that releases a biologic drug to combat inflammation.
Guilak, who also is the director of research at Shriners Children in St. Louis, spent more than 15 years working with collaborators to develop the method in which cartilage cells are seeded onto a scaffold to treat arthritis of the hip. With collaborators, Guilak formed a startup company called CytexOrtho that is advancing the technology.
Guilak has received the Basic Research Award from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International; the Senior Scientist Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society; and a trio of major awards from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He also is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
David H. Gutmann
Gutmann is the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor in the Department of Neurology. He is an international authority in neurofibromatosis (NF) cancer predisposition syndromes, complex genetic disorders that cause tumors to grow on nerves in the brain and throughout the body. As a practicing physician-scientist, he established a clinical program for people with NF in 1994 and founded the Washington University NF Center in 2004, one of the world’s largest centers focused on accelerating the pace of scientific discovery and its application to the care of individuals with NF.
Gutmann is being recognized for his seminal contributions to the field of NF and related disorders, establishing novel human and murine preclinical model systems to elucidate the impact of germline genetics, cancer cells of origin, and the tumor microenvironment on pediatric brain tumor biology, patient risk assessment, clinical outcomes and targeted therapeutics.
Gutmann and his team leverage human stem cells and genetically engineered mice to define the factors that underlie disease risk, with a goal of improving precision medicine for this highly variable disease. Using these tools, they have begun to define the contributions of immune cells (microglia and T cells) to brain tumor formation and growth, as well as the mechanisms by which immune cells in brain tumors cause vision loss. In addition, Gutmann has been exploring the role neurons play in brain and nerve tumor growth, making him one of the pioneers in the emerging field of cancer neuroscience. Recently, his group showed that repurposing drugs used to treat epilepsy can block the growth of brain and nerve tumors.
Gutmann is also a fellow of the American Neurological Association, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Physicians.
Kipnis is the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Pathology & Immunology and a BJC Investigator. He is an internationally recognized scientific leader in how the nervous and immune systems interact in neurodegenerative, neuroinflammatory and neurodevelopmental disorders. His work uncovered an unexpected mechanism by which the immune system influences brain function.
In 2015, he discovered a network of vessels that drains fluid, immune-system cells and small molecules from the brain into the lymph nodes, where many immune system cells reside. His research suggests that malfunctions in these vessels could contribute to a variety of neurological disorders. In 2021, his team showed that coupling a treatment geared toward improving the function of such vessels with investigational Alzheimer’s therapies made the experimental therapies more effective in mice, key evidence of the importance of such vessels.
The founding director of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia at Washington University, Kipnis has conducted groundbreaking studies on how immune cells contribute to brain health and disease. His team showed that the immune cells that monitor the brain are stationed in the meninges — the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord — where they sample fluid as it washes out of the brain. If the cells detect signs of infection, disease or injury, they are prepared to initiate an immune response to confront the problem. In addition, Kipnis and colleagues showed the immune cells in the meninges can come from two different places and that these origins matter. Those that come from the skull protect the brain from infection and help injured tissues heal. Those that come from the bloodstream are linked to autoimmune diseases and inflammation.
Kipnis also is a professor of neurology, of neuroscience and of neurosurgery. He has won several honors and awards, including the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2018.
About Washington University School of Medicine
WashU Medicine is a global leader in academic medicine, including biomedical research, patient care and educational programs with 2,700 faculty. Its National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding portfolio is the fourth largest among U.S. medical schools, has grown 54% in the last five years, and, together with institutional investment, WashU Medicine commits well over $1 billion annually to basic and clinical research innovation and training. Its faculty practice is consistently within the top five in the country, with more than 1,790 faculty physicians practicing at over 60 locations and who are also the medical staffs of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals of BJC HealthCare. WashU Medicine has a storied history in MD/PhD training, recently dedicated $100 million to scholarships and curriculum renewal for its medical students, and is home to top-notch training programs in every medical subspecialty as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and audiology and communications sciences.