Department of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine

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Department of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine

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The Division of Medical Genetics was established as a result of a $1.4 million donation from James S. McDonnell in 1967. This followed a 1964 grant to Dr. William Sly, the head of the genetics program, which was used to study genetic mechanisms. The department was considered part of the Department of Internal Medicine and housed within the McDonnell Medical Science Building, also named for the McDonnell family as a result of a $4.7 million donation. The establishment of the department was celebrated by a lecture series titled “Genetics and the Space Age,” and Drs. William Sly and David L. Rimoin were directors.

Washington University School of Medicine became the eighth university in the country to have a genetics department. In addition to the academic program within the Department of Internal Medicine, a Genetics Counseling clinic was founded in conjunction with Children’s Hospital in 1967 using funding from a United States Public Health Service grant. When the grant funding ended in 1970, the Ranken Jordan Trust Fund began supporting the clinic and department on a smaller scale. In 1975, a four-year research grant was awarded to Dr. Sly, now promoted to professor, for continuing his research on enzymes and genetics.


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