- A dictionary of medical eponyms

William N. Kelley

Born  1939

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American physician, born June 23, 1939, Atlanta, Georgia.

Biography of William N. Kelley

William N. Kelley graduated from High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, and subsequently studied mathematics at Emory University. In the fall of 1959 he entered the Emory University School of Medicine. Following graduation he served his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Here he became interested in biomedical research, and moved on to a position as a Clinical Associate in the Section on Human Biochemical Genetics at the National Institutes of Health, working in the laboratory of Jay Seegmiller. It was in this period he published his important discovery of deficiency of HGPRT enzyme activity as the molecular basis of the Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome.

Kelley left NIH for further clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and one year later accepted an offer from Duke University, where he became chief of the Division of Rheumatic and Genetic Diseases.

His next stop was at Oxford University, working at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology. In 1975, aged only 36, he became Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.

At the University of Michigan, Kelley and his colleagues were the first to propose in vivo gene therapy as it is recognized today and the first to directly administer a human gene in vivo and obtain expression in an experimental animal model. In 1987 he submitted a patent for transduction of human HGPRT into neuronal cells in culture and in intact animals. The patent was issued on September 30, 1997.

In 1989 Kelley left Michigan to become CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Robert G. Dunlop Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and Biophysics. He remained in that position until 2000. From June 2002 he has served as director of GenVec, a biotechnology company. He also serves as a director of Merck & Company; Beckman Coulter; and Advanced Bio-Surfaces, Inc.

We thank William Kelley for information submitted. William N. Kelley is his father.


  • William N. Kelley, Frederick M. Rosenbloom, and J. Edwin Seegmiller:
    The Effects of Azathioprine (Imuran) on Purine Synthesis in Clinical Disorders of Purine Metabolism.
    The Journal of Clinical Investigation, September 1967, 46 (9): 1518-1529.
  • Edward W. Holmes:
    Of rice and men: Bill Kelley's next generation.
    The Journal of Clinical Investigation, October 1, 2005: 115 (10): 2948–2952.

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