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Gill installed as inaugural Nash professor in pediatrics

Physician-scientist noted for research involving respiratory diseases in children

by Marta WegorzewskaAugust 25, 2023

Mena Darré

Michelle A. Joubert Gill, MD, PhD, a nationally recognized physician-scientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named the inaugural Homer E. Nash Jr., MD, Professor in Pediatrics.

The honor was bestowed by St. Louis Children’s Hospital through a gift funded by an anonymous donor to honor the legacy of Nash, a beloved pediatrician who spent decades caring and advocating for underserved children in the St. Louis area. He was also a renowned clinical professor at Washington University and part of the medical staff at St. Louis Children’s and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Gill, who joined the faculty in 2021, is a professor of pediatrics and director of a developing research center focused on pediatric pulmonary diseases and asthma. The research center is supported by the Children’s Discovery Institute, a partnership between St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University.

Recognized as a skilled and compassionate clinician, Gill also has earned national and international acknowledgment for her work on the role of a particular subset of immune cells — dendritic cells — in childhood asthma and respiratory viral infections. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Dr. Gill has made and will clearly continue to make significant contributions to our knowledge of respiratory conditions in children, and her studies will guide our approaches to therapies for these children,” said Gary A. Silverman, MD, PhD, the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics. “She enthusiastically leads by example and has set a very high bar for the early-career faculty, fellows, residents and students.”

Added Trish Lollo, president of St. Louis Children’s: “In the realm of pediatric medicine, Dr. Gill shines not only as an innovator but also as a compassionate healer. Her commitment to understanding and combating childhood asthma is unparalleled, and her work is a beacon of hope for countless families. As we honor the legacy of Dr. Homer E. Nash Jr., it is evident that Dr. Gill is charting a path forward with the same spirit of service.”

Gill led a study testing a monoclonal antibody, omalizumab, in asthma patients as part of the multicenter NIH-funded Inner City Asthma Consortium. Most recently, Gill’s research has focused on understanding how allergens influence immune responses to common respiratory viruses, resulting in asthma exacerbations in children, and how therapies targeting these factors improve asthma outcomes.

Some of her work is conducted as a member of the NIH Childhood Asthma in Urban Settings (CAUSE) network, a multicenter childhood asthma research consortium.

Gill serves as a guideline-development panel member on community-acquired pneumonia in infants and children for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. She was elected vice president, advanced to president and now serves as an ambassador for the North American Regionals of the Society for Pediatric Research.

Gill earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988, a doctorate in cell biology and anatomy in 1993, and a medical degree in 1995, all from Louisiana State University.

She completed her pediatric residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1998 and a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in 2003. She then spent nearly two decades at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where she was promoted to professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and immunology and served as assistant director for the Medical Scientist Training Program.

About Washington University School of Medicine

WashU Medicine is a global leader in academic medicine, including biomedical research, patient care and educational programs with 2,800 faculty. Its National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding portfolio is the third largest among U.S. medical schools, has grown 52% in the last six years, and, together with institutional investment, WashU Medicine commits well over $1 billion annually to basic and clinical research innovation and training. Its faculty practice is consistently within the top five in the country, with more than 1,800 faculty physicians practicing at 65 locations and who are also the medical staffs of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals of BJC HealthCare. WashU Medicine has a storied history in MD/PhD training, recently dedicated $100 million to scholarships and curriculum renewal for its medical students, and is home to top-notch training programs in every medical subspecialty as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and audiology and communications sciences.

Marta covers pathology & immunology, pediatrics, obstetrics & gynecology, anesthesiology, ophthalmology and technology management, among other topics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgetown University and a PhD in immunology from the University of California, San Francisco. She did her postdoctoral work in Washington University’s Department of Pathology & Immunology. Marta joined WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications in 2023 after working as a science writer in the Department of Biology on the Danforth Campus for five years.