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Neidorffs commit $5 million to honor distinguished clinicians

Gift to establish endowed professorships recognizing Robert C. Packman, John S. Daniels

by Tamara BhandariJune 25, 2020

Courtesy of Noémi and Michael Neidorff

Noémi and Michael Neidorff have committed $5 million to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to honor highly regarded physicians Robert C. Packman, MD, and John S. Daniels, MD, with the establishment of two new endowed professorships in their names. The Neidorff family has long been impressed with the quality of care delivered by physicians at the School of Medicine.

The Robert C. Packman Professorship in virology and the John S. Daniels Professorship in immunology celebrate the wisdom, dedication and accomplishments of Packman, a former School of Medicine faculty member who is now senior vice president of medical affairs at Centene Corp., and Daniels, a Washington University associate professor of clinical medicine who specializes in endocrinology and metabolism. The professorships in their names will support research efforts in virology and immunology, areas in which Washington University has been internationally renowned and that are ever more important in helping our world confront current and future pandemic viral diseases.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous suffering in the St. Louis area and around the world, and it is unlikely to end until we find a way to prevent transmission and treat the disease,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “Michael and Noémi Neidorff have long supported biomedical research at Washington University. Their latest commitment will accelerate research into desperately needed drugs and vaccines to put an end to this devastating pandemic. I am grateful to the Neidorffs for their continued commitment to our community and for stepping forward during this challenging time to support critical research at the School of Medicine.”

“Because it spreads easily and causes significant illness and death, SARS CoV-2 has brought the world to its knees and put the spotlight on those things for which academic medical centers are uniquely suited, including clinical innovations for the sickest and most vulnerable, and biomedical research to develop novel preventive and therapeutic strategies,” 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. “In the past few months, some of the most gifted research groups at our School of Medicine have pivoted to an exclusive focus on COVID-19, investigating all aspects of the virus and how it interacts with the body so we can develop drugs and vaccines to block it. This generous commitment, which recognizes and supports our institution’s world-class talent in virology and immunology, will allow us to support our efforts in St. Louis to develop effective strategies for this current virus as well as new viruses that we have to contain in the future.”

The Neidorffs previously have provided financial support to the School of Medicine for research into surgical treatments for pancreatic and gastrointestinal diseases, and to the university’s Brown School for health disparities research. Also, the Neidorffs along with Centene endowed the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, held by Mary McKay.

Michael Neidorff is chairman, president and CEO of Centene Corp. Since he took the helm in 1996, Centene has grown into a Fortune 50 multinational health-care enterprise serving one in 15 individuals across the nation. Last year, Centene and the School of Medicine announced a historic, sponsored research project aimed at transforming and accelerating research into treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. As part of the collaboration, Centene committed to funding of up to $100 million over 10 years in research at the School of Medicine. The funding already has galvanized the school’s Personalized Medicine Initiative.

The couple has a deep and longstanding commitment to advancing human health, and highlighting and building on the strengths of the St. Louis region.

“With the world’s focus on the current global pandemic, the importance of virology and immunology has never been more vital. To advance and support lifesaving research in those fields, Noémi and I are honored to endow professorships in recognition of the tireless work of two pioneering physicians,” Michael Neidorff said.

Added Noémi Neidorff: “Dr. Robert C. Packman and Dr. John S. Daniels are pillars of the St. Louis medical community, and these professorships will ensure their commitment to excellence in their respective fields is continued for generations.”

The Neidorffs have long supported efforts to strengthen the St. Louis community. In 2015, they were honored with the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award in recognition of their efforts on behalf of the St. Louis region. The couple designated the cash prize that accompanies the award to Washington University’s College Prep Program. In January, they received the Whitney M. Young Humanitarian Award from the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and Saint Louis University for their steadfast support of the organization’s efforts to advance racial justice.

Michael Neidorff grew up in Altoona, Penn., and earned his bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio and his master’s degree from St. Francis College (now St. Francis University). He is a board member of the National Urban League and served as its chairman from 2014 through 2019. In 2015, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis.

Since 1990, he has served as a member of the board of directors for the Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts of America. He also sits on the board of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he previously served as chairman and is currently a trustee on its Endowment Committee. As a trustee for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, he serves on the Institutional Development Committee and previously served as a vice chairman.

Most recently, Neidorff was one of 16 executives tapped by the White House for its newly formed economic recovery task force, a group also comprised of economists, scholars and industry leaders.

Noémi Neidorff is a classically trained musician and an active leader in the arts community. A native of Budapest, Hungary, Noémi Neidorff fled the country with her parents during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. She went on to become a classical pianist after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. She continued postgraduate studies at Columbia University. She serves on the Kennedy Center’s International Committee on the Arts and was a past president of the National Symphony Orchestra’s National Trustees. She is a vice chairman on the board of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, chairman of the board of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and on the executive committee of the Manhattan School of Music. She played a significant role in founding the radio station Classic 107.3 FM, a station focused heavily on classical music and the arts.

The gift honors the accomplishments of Packman, senior vice president of medical affairs at Centene, and Daniels, who, as an associate professor of clinical medicine at the School of Medicine, specializes in endocrinology and metabolism.

Packman

Before taking the position at Centene, Packman served as a professor of clinical medicine for more than 35 years at the School of Medicine. During his tenure, he served as president of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Medical Staff Association, chaired the Barnes Hospital Medical Records Committee, served on the School of Medicine admissions committee, and chaired the Barnes Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee.

As co-chief resident at Barnes Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish Hospital), Packman and co-chief resident J. Russell Little, MD, created a pocket-sized outline on therapeutics for senior medical students to improve patient care. Their 1962 “Manual of Medical Therapeutics” was published by Little, Brown and Co. Packman edited two subsequent editions of the manual, known today as “The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics.” The guide is revised every two to three years by Washington University faculty and chief residents, has been translated into 12 languages and continues to be one of the best-selling medical textbooks worldwide.

Packman served as an outstanding clinician for many years, and Daniels continues to serve in this role, as an internist and endocrinologist. Both have been lauded for providing compassionate and meticulous care for patients.

Daniels

Daniels was born and raised in Fort Smith, Ark., as the son of Jewish immigrants who escaped the Holocaust. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine in 1974 with both a medical degree and a master’s degree in anatomy, having completed extra courses in anatomy as well as extensive research in nerve regeneration while attending medical school. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital before joining the clinical faculty of the School of Medicine. Along with an active practice treating patients with endocrine and metabolic disorders, Daniels has published two novels, “The Intern” and “Second Chances.”

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.