In 2020, The Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professorship was established by Paul and Elke Koch through the Paul A. and Elke E. Koch Charitable Foundation to honor the work of Dr. Timothy Eberlein and his wife, Kim. Ryan Fields, MD, was installed as the inaugural Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professor at a ceremony held on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, in the presence of the Eberleins, Kochs, Washington University faculty and staff, and his family.
Paul Koch, a Washington University alumnus, and his wife Elke have been long dedicated supporters of the university. Their philanthropy has included offering support for scholarships and funding at Olin Business School, the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and the School of Law. In establishing the Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professorship, they hope to help advance the Eberleins’ vision for Siteman Cancer Center and the School of Medicine and honor their years of service to the community.
At the ceremony, the Kochs and Eberleins were presented with medallions in appreciation for their dedication and support through this newly established professorship.
“There are few people who would endow a distinguished professorship to honor someone else,” Eberlein said. “And I think, for that, Kim and I will be eternally grateful.”
In his introduction of Fields, Eberlein highlighted key accomplishments throughout his career and detailing the story of Fields’ journey at Washington University. Eberlein discussed Fields’ groundbreaking work in cancer genomics and diversifying genomic studies, emphasized his dedication to the department and lauded his advancements in the field. “Through all of this, Ryan has been a great surgeon,” Eberlein said. “I can’t think of anybody who deserves an endowed professorship more than you do, Ryan.”
Fields is an accomplished clinician, researcher and educator within the Department of Surgery. In addition to personally mentoring general surgery residents as associate program director and director of resident research, Fields serves as chief of surgical oncology, director of the Washington University Solid Tumor Tissue Bank and Registry, and co-leader of the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program (STTP) and the Melanoma and Cutaneous Oncology Program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center. He has been continuously funded by the NCI for the past eight years for his research on mechanisms of cancer metasets, cancer “-omics”, and novel in vitro and small animal models of cancer. He is a key investigator in research efforts at the medical school including the Washington University SPORE in Pancreatic Cancer, Washington University PDX U54 Clinical Trial Program and the “Cancer Moonshot” U2C Human Tumor Atlas Network (HTAN). His dedication to promoting excellence in education, clinical practices and research exemplifies the mission of the Department of Surgery and the Eberleins’ and Kochs’ visions for the future of the department and School of Medicine.
Following his formal installation as the first Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professor, Fields thanked his family, friends and colleagues for their support and presented an address entitled “The Myriad Definitions of Success in Academic Medicine.” This address discussed his career and those who impacted and supported him along the way, his proudest achievements in cancer research, and the new research endeavors he looks forward to in the future – thanks, in great part, to the endowed professorship supported by the Kochs in honor of the Ebeleins. Fields discussed how he defines success in academic medicine, noting that it was the opportunities provided to him by the exceptional faculty surrounding him within the department which allowed for many of his own successes.
Fields emphasized the pancreatic SPORE, Cancer Moonshot and StARR training program – initiatives he believes have excellent potential to change the very face of cancer research and treatment and to provide residents with vital access to quality research early in their careers. He ended on a note of gratitude for the supportive environment Washington University has provided for him and countless others. “Being able to work in a community that rallies around our work gives our work meaning,” Fields said. “Your collaboration and friendship is truly what makes me excited to come to work every day.”
The Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professorship recognizes the lasting legacy of the Eberleins and their dedication to Washington University and the St. Louis community as a whole. Dr. Eberlein serves as founding director of Siteman Cancer Center and was Chair of the Department of Surgery from 1998-2022. Eberlein championed unprecedented growth of the department and cancer center and made groundbreaking achievements in research on tumor immunology and immunotherapies for cancer. Over the course of his impressive career, he has authored over 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters and held key titles in the American College of Surgeons, the American Board of Surgery and the National Cancer Institute. Kim Eberlein, in addition to her vital support of her husband and his achievements with Washington University and Siteman Cancer Center, has made major contributions to art and culture within the St. Louis community as a leader at the Opera Theater of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. She also previously served as a public health administrator and held positions at Harvard University, the University of Pittsburgh and the NIH, and served as a consultant for Washington University’s Institute for Public Health. Together, the Eberleins’ efforts have made crucial lasting impacts on the communities of Washington University, St. Louis and far beyond.