St. Jude gene therapy pioneer Dr. Arthur W. Nienhuis dies at age 79

St. Jude gene therapy pioneer Dr. Arthur W. Nienhuis dies at age 79
Dr. Arthur W. Nienhuis (Source: St. Jude website)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Dr. Arthur W. Nienhuis, a man referred to as the gene therapy pioneer at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, has died at the age of 79.

According to St. Jude, Nienhuis passed away on Wednesday, February 3. He was the fourth director at St. Jude and helped the hospital grow “exponentially in both size and stature.”

“At St. Jude, the nature of our work requires a bold, ambitious approach. Dr. Nienhuis was a true innovator,” said James R. Downing, MD, president and CEO of St. Jude. “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.”

Months after arriving at St. Jude in 1993, Nienhuis championed the idea of establishing a pediatric brain tumor program.

St. Jude says he was a world leader in hematology and gene therapy and served as president of the American Society of Hematology in 1994 and the American Society of Gene Therapy in 2008.

Funeral arrangements have been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.

Nienhuis is survived by his wife, Corinne Ridolphi Nienhuis; his children, Carol Johnson (Barry), Craig Nienhuis (Julie), Kevin Nienhuis (Janay) and Heather Gallagher (Peter); his stepchildren, Dr. Lee Nichols (Holly), Emily Davis (Frank), Franklin Adams (Liz), Meriwether Nichols (Wende) and Dr. Will Adams (Lindsay). He is also survived by siblings Marilyn (Nienhuis) Timmerman, Wilma (Nienhuis) Van Til, and Robert and Jan Nienhuis; as well as 10 grandchildren.

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