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Koch gift recognizes outstanding research, teaching in surgical oncology

Fields named to endowed professorship honoring Eberleins

by Julia Evangelou StraitFebruary 9, 2021

Sid Hastings/Washington University

Paul and Elke Koch have committed their support to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to establish the Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professorship. Ryan C. Fields, MD, has been named the inaugural recipient.

Fields is chief of the Section of Surgical Oncology in the Department of Surgery and co-leads the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program at Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. His career is focused on surgical oncology patient care, teaching and research.

Reprinted with permission from Ladue News
Kim and Tim Eberlein

The Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professorship is being established through the generosity of the Paul A. and Elke E. Koch Charitable Foundation. It honors the outstanding contributions of Timothy J. Eberlein, MD, the director of Siteman Cancer Center, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, and head of the Department of Surgery at Washington University, and his wife, Kimberley A. Eberlein, who had a distinguished career in health-care administration and now holds numerous leadership positions in arts organizations in St. Louis.

Eberlein is also the Bixby Professor of Surgery, and surgeon-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“Paul and Elke Koch have provided tremendous support to Washington University over the years, and their most recent contributions will play a vital role in continuing the cutting-edge cancer research and outstanding patient care provided at Siteman Cancer Center under the leadership of Tim Eberlein,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “Tim and Kim Eberlein’s contributions to the university community are immeasurable, and it is fitting that their longtime commitment to the School of Medicine and St. Louis as a whole will be recognized with this endowed professorship. We’re pleased to recognize Ryan Fields with the inaugural professorship, and we are grateful to the Kochs for their ongoing support of the university and, with this professorship, its leadership in cancer research.”

Said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor: “We thank Paul and Elke Koch for their generous commitment to the continued excellence of Siteman Cancer Center and the groundbreaking research conducted at the School of Medicine into new and better ways to treat cancer and care for patients. This professorship will support the innovative research, teaching and patient care of Ryan Fields, who is working to develop the next generation of cancer therapies, including precision medicine approaches that may see cancer vaccines and other immunotherapies that precisely target the tumor while leaving healthy tissue untouched.”

The new professorship continues the Kochs’ history of providing financial support to Washington University. In 2016, they founded a family business initiative at Olin Business School and helped launch an annual Olin Family Business Symposium with Paul’s brother, Roger, and his wife, Fran. Two years later, an endowment gift from the Paul A. and Elke E. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Fran and Roger Koch Charitable Foundation helped establish the Koch Center for Family Business and an endowed faculty position at the business school. Their gift also established the Koch Distinguished Professorship in Law, now held by Neil M. Richards, JD. In addition to these gifts, Paul and Elke Koch have provided significant support to Siteman Cancer Center, to facilities at Olin Business School, and to the School of Law.

A longtime advocate for family business, Paul Koch, along with his brother, Roger Koch, are co-chairmen of the board and third-generation leaders of Koch Development Co., a real estate development company based in St. Louis that develops and manages commercial real estate, and owns and operates entertainment attractions, including the 20-story SkyWheel observation wheels in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Panama City Beach, Fla.

Paul Koch is a Washington University alumnus, earning his bachelor’s degree, law degree and master’s degree in business administration at the university. In 2012, Koch received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Olin Business School, and in 2018, he received the same honor from the School of Law. On Founder’s Day in 2019, he and his brother, Roger Koch, also a major university benefactor, received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Tim Eberlein is laser-focused on preventing and treating cancer, a disease that impacts so many people in all walks of life,” Paul Koch said. “He’s a great surgeon and an institution builder. Over his 20 years of leadership, he has had a vision for what Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis could become in cancer control, and Kim Eberlein is an integral part of that team. We wanted to do whatever we could to help achieve that vision. It’s a great pleasure to be able to support the work of Ryan Fields and recognize the Eberleins at the same time.”

Added Elke Koch: “Tim Eberlein is running a wonderful institution, and it’s renowned throughout the country and around the world. This professorship is about honoring Kim and Tim’s contributions and especially their vision of the cancer center as a resource for cancer treatment and prevention that is available to smaller communities that don’t have access to care.”


Ryan Fields is a professor of surgery specializing in the surgical treatment of cancers of the pancreas, liver, bile duct, stomach and small intestine as well as skin cancers, such as melanoma. A noted researcher, Fields’ lab conducts translational research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is focused on the genetics and biology of metastatic cancer, including the immune landscape of various tumors. He investigates the best ways to identify and treat patients at high risk of recurrent cancer and the use of the latest innovations to improve survival. Fields also serves as associate program director of the General Surgery Residency Program and director of resident research in the Department of Surgery.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive this professorship that recognizes the tremendous contributions that the Eberleins have made to the field of surgical oncology, to Siteman Cancer Center, to the School of Medicine and to the St. Louis community,” Fields said. “I thank Paul and Elke Koch for their extraordinary generosity in establishing this professorship. Their gift will support our research efforts to understand the complexities of tumor biology and develop new and better therapies for our patients. I will steward this professorship with drive, passion, and a vision to advance cancer care here at Siteman.”

Tim Eberlein is known for his pioneering leadership and innovation in surgical education, cancer research and clinical care of cancer patients. As founding director of Siteman Cancer Center, Eberlein has led the center through unprecedented growth in size, research grants, clinical trial accrual and collaborations with other institutions. His research has focused on tumor immunology and immunotherapies for cancer, including vaccines. He has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters, with a focus on breast cancer, molecular biology and tumor immunology.

Eberlein has held important roles in the American College of Surgeons, the American Board of Surgery and the National Cancer Institute. He served as president of the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Society of Surgical Chairs, the American Surgical Association and the Southern Surgical Association. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine; a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow, the Swiss Surgical Society and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; and an honorary member of the French Academy of Surgery in Paris.

Kim Eberlein served as a public health administrator and held positions at Harvard University, the University of Pittsburgh and the NIH before coming to St. Louis. She also has served as a consultant for Washington University’s Institute for Public Health. She has made major contributions to the arts in St. Louis, holding leadership positions with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In 2012, she received the Visionary Award for Major Contributor to the Arts from Grand Center Inc.

“Kim and I are truly grateful to Paul and Elke Koch for this extraordinary honor,” Tim Eberlein said. “Their generosity in creating this professorship will assure a lasting legacy of contributions to the field of surgical oncology, starting with Dr. Fields, the inaugural chair holder. It will further distinguish the leadership role Siteman has played in developing innovative, impactful treatments in the care of cancer patients.”

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.

Julia covers medical news in genomics, cancer, cardiology, developmental biology, otolaryngology, biochemistry & molecular biophysics, and gut microbiome research. In 2022, she won a gold award for excellence in the Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards competition. Given by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the award recognized her coverage of long COVID-19. Before joining Washington University in 2010, she was a freelance writer covering science and medicine. She has a research background with stints in labs focused on bioceramics, human motor control and tissue-engineered heart valves. She is a past Missouri Health Journalism Fellow and a current member of the National Association of Science Writers. She holds a bachelor's degree in engineering science from Iowa State University and a master's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota.