Oct. 12, 1995
Vol. 15, No. 3

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    Steele, Polonsky honored with endowed professorships

    s Glenn Steele Jr., the new Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and one of the nation's foremost surgical oncologists, and Kenneth Polonsky, a nationally recognized authority on non-insulin-dependent diabetes, have been honored with endowed professorships.

    Steele, Professor in Surgery, Dean of the BSD and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and Vice President for Medical Affairs, has been named the Richard T. Crane Professor. Polonsky, Professor in Medicine, Section Chief of Endocrinology and Director of the Diabetes Research and Training Center, has been named a Louis Block Professor in the BSD.

    Steele, who joined the University on Sept. 1, came to Chicago from Harvard, where he was the William V. McDermott Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the department of surgery at New England Deaconess Hospital. He also was a physician in surgical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

    He is widely recognized for colorectal cancer surgery and for his investigations in the treatment of primary and metastatic liver cancer. His laboratory investigations focus on the cell biology of gastrointestinal cancer and pre-cancer. A prolific writer, he is the author or co-author of nearly 400 scientific articles.

    Steele received his A.B. from Harvard, his M.D. from New York University School of Medicine and his Ph.D. from Lund University in Sweden. Before he came to Chicago, all of his teaching and clinical career had been at Harvard and its associated hospitals.

    A member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, he also serves on the editorial boards of several prominent medical journals.

    Polonsky is highly regarded both as a clinician and in the laboratory, where his research focuses on pancreatic beta cells -- the cells that produce insulin. He has developed novel, sensitive and accurate methods of evaluating beta-cell function in people with different forms of diabetes, including very mild diabetes.

    Polonsky and his colleagues have also demonstrated that, in those at risk for diabetes, defects in beta-cell function can be detected even before the onset of the disease, and that beta-cell dysfunction can be detected in patients who have a diabetes-related gene on chromosome 20, even when blood sugar levels are still normal, indicating that in this form of diabetes the primary defect is in the beta cell.

    A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Polonsky received his M.D. in 1973 from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School. He came to Chicago in 1978 to complete a fellowship in endocrinology and joined the faculty in 1981.

    The author or co-author of more than 100 publications, Polonsky has served on the editorial boards of several of the leading endocrinology journals. He has won numerous awards and honors, most recently the 1994 Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the American Diabetes Association, presented each year to a researcher under the age of 45 who has made an outstanding contribution to diabetes research.