Dr. Arthur Nienhuis, gene therapy pioneer, dies

Gene therapy pioneer Arthur Nienhuis, MD, the fourth director of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., has died, the hospital said

Dr. Nienhuis died Feb. 3 at age 79. 

"At St. Jude, the nature of our work requires a bold, ambitious approach. Dr. Nienhuis was a true innovator," James Downing, MD, president and CEO of St. Jude, said in a news release. He was a tenacious researcher and unafraid of a challenge. This unique talent and passion for discovery made an indelible mark on pediatric medicine and gene therapy. Our institution and, more importantly, countless patients, continue to benefit from his vision and courage."

Dr. Nienhuis joined St. Jude in 1993 and served as director and CEO of the hospital until 2004.  

During his tenure, he was credited with playing a key role in St. Jude's growth in size and scientific stature.  

He oversaw the hospital's "billion-dollar expansion," which included building the Children's Good Manufacturing Practice facility; the Hartwell Center; and the integrated research center, which was later renamed after the hospital's first medical director, the hospital said.

Dr. Nienhuis also oversaw the creation of the developmental neurobiology and structural biology departments, and he was instrumental in recruiting new department chairs and institutional leaders for the experimental hematology, bone marrow transplantation, pediatric oncology and infectious diseases programs, said St. Jude.

He was president of the American Society of Hematology in 1994 and the American Society of Gene Therapy in 2008. 

To learn more about Dr. Nienhuis and his legacy, click here


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