William N. Kelley, M.D. received his medical degree from Emory University where he was also elected to membership in Alpha Omega Alpha. Following Internal Medicine training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, he joined the staff of the National Institutes of Health as a Clinical Associate in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, Section on Human Biochemical Genetics. He then completed additional clinical training in medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
In 1968, Dr. Kelley joined the faculty at Duke University Medical Center where he became Professor of Medicine, Associate Professor of Biochemistry, and Chief of the Division of Rheumatic and Genetic Diseases.
From 1975 to 1989, Dr. Kelley was the John G. Searle Professor and Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan. During this time Dr. Kelley and colleagues recruited a large number of outstanding junior faculty to the Department, including many who are among the today’s leaders in American medicine. As one measure of his success, over this period the department moved from 42nd to 4th in funding from the NIH.
With a long history of involvement in experimental models of gene therapy, Dr. Kelley and his colleagues at the University of Michigan were the first to propose in vivo gene therapy as it is recognized today. For his work, Dr. Kelley received the National Medical Research Award from the National Health Council. In 1991, he co-chaired the first International Symposium sponsored by the NIH on Human Gene Therapy. His patent reflecting the work, “Viral-Mediated Gene Transfer System,” submitted in 1987, was issued in late 1997.
From 1989 to 2000, Dr. Kelley served as Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania with responsibilities as Chief Executive Officer for the Medical Center, and the Robert G. Dunlop Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. He led a broadly based strategic planning process involving the medical enterprise at Penn which culminated in 1993 with the approval by the University Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), the nation’s first fully integrated university based academic health system, providing a model for the accountable care organization (ACO) widely sought today in the United States. Upon its approval, he was appointed the founding Chief Executive Officer of UPHS while maintaining his other academic responsibilities. Over the decade of the nineties, the research funding for the medical school grew the fastest in absolute dollars of any medical school in the United States, moving the School of Medicine from #10 to #2 in NIH funding among the nation’s medical schools. Another marker of the unprecedented growth and achievement of the Kelley years was the School of Medicine’s ranking among the nation’s medical schools as reported by U.S. News & World Report; the school went from #10 in 1990 to #3 in 1999. In the late nineties, and for the first time, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, a core hospital of UPHS, moved into the honor roll of the nation’s top hospitals in the same news magazine, ranking #10 by the year 2000. In addition, the Health System received eight major national health care quality awards in 1998 and 1999 alone, including the Ernest A. Codman Award from the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
Dr. Kelley has served on the editorial boards of 13 medical journals, and his bibliography includes more than 300 publications as well as 17 books. He was the co-founder and senior editor of The Textbook of Rheumatology for five editions; the book, now in its eighth edition, is entitled Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology and it is the global sales leader in the field. In addition, he was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Textbook of Internal Medicine through three editions. The fourth edition is now entitled Kelley’s Textbook of Internal Medicine. He formerly served as Senior Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
In the national leadership arena, he has had the opportunity to serve as President of the American Federation for Medical Research, President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, President of the American College of Rheumatology, Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and Chair of the Residency Review Committee for Internal Medicine.
Based on his outstanding contributions to American medicine, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society (1998), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994), the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (1985), and the Association of American Physicians (1975). He is a Master of both the American College of Physicians (1988) and the American College of Rheumatology (2004). He has been the recipient of many of the major awards and honors that his peers can bestow, including the John Phillips Memorial Award and Medal from the American College of Physicians (1990), the National Research Award from the National Health Council (1991), the Robert H. Williams Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine (1995), the Gold Medal of the American College of Rheumatology (1997), the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges (1999), and the Distinguished Medical Achievement Award from the Medical Alumni Association (1985) as well as The Emory Medal from Emory University (2000), and the George M. Kober Medal from the Association of American Physicians (2005). In 2011, in conjunction with Emory University’s 175th anniversary celebration, Dr. Kelley was selected as one of the “175 Emory History Makers” in the history of Emory – an award intended to honor individuals who have exceptionally demonstrated courageous and ethical leadership in behalf of the greater community, a legacy of imparting knowledge on others, and/or a significant contribution to life at Emory.
Dr. Kelley currently serves as a Director of GenVec, Inc., and as a trustee emeritus of Emory University and the Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University. He formerly served as Director on the boards of Advanced Bio-Surfaces, Inc., Beckman Coulter, Inc., Channel Health, Merck & Co., and PolyMedix, Inc. He is a member of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce of the National Academies, and also serves as an Advisor of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, which includes membership on their Strategic Review Committee as well as the Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council.
Dr. Kelley is currently Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.