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Kendall named director of allergy and immunology division

Physician-scientist studies allergies, immune diseases

by Diane Duke WilliamsOctober 30, 2019

Mike Nichols

Peggy Kendall, MD, has been named director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology in the Department of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She joined the university from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, where she was an associate professor of medicine and pathology, microbiology and immunology.

“Dr. Kendall is a superb physician-scientist who is among an increasingly rare breed of investigators focused on the interaction of allergies and immune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and arthritis,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine. “She studies how complex interactions between the immune system, microbiome and environment cause disease. Her commitment to patients spurs her interest in developing treatments for allergies and immune diseases.”

Kendall studies the role of B cells, a type of white blood cell, in autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Kendall also is investigating the role of immune cells as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for certain lung diseases.

She succeeds H. James Wedner, the Dr. Phillip and Arleen Korenblat Professor of Medicine, who served as the division director since 2001. Wedner also is director of The Asthma and Allergy Center of Washington University.

“I am honored to join the phenomenal faculty in the Department of Medicine at Washington University,” Kendall said. “I look forward to building on the strong programs developed most recently by Dr. Jim Wedner and to continuing the longstanding relationship this division has with Dr. Phillip Korenblat, professor of clinical medicine at Washington University, who is globally renowned for his contributions to allergy and immunology research.

“The vibrant faculty at Washington University serve a diverse group of patients, including many with immunodeficiencies. Wash U’s powerful scientific environment, particularly in the fields of immunology and microbiome, provides perfect synergy for developing new understanding and treatments of allergies and immune diseases. I anticipate great things from this amazing team of scientists and physicians.”

Kendall earned a bachelor’s degree in 1982 in radio-TV-film communication from the University of Texas, Austin. She worked as a TV producer in Texas for 10 years before deciding to go to medical school. She earned a medical degree in 1996 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics in 2000 and a fellowship in allergy and immunology in 2004, all at Vanderbilt.

During her fellowship, she joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an instructor in 2003.

Kendall’s laboratory research is supported by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and a Veterans Administration Merit Award. She is an active mentor of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.

Kendall’s husband, Jonathan Sheehan, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry at Vanderbilt, joined the university’s Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Diane retired from Washington University in 2024. While at WashU Medicine, Diane pitched the news of the medical school—about research, patient care and education—and serves as a liaison between reporters and faculty. She also covered obstetrics/ gynecology, emergency medicine and the Institute for Public Health. Before joining Medical Public Affairs, she reported for the Austin Business Journal and wrote patient education materials at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.