NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Alumnus Vesell Mourned

Dr. Elliot Vesell
Dr. Elliot Vesell

Dr. Elliot Vesell, who served as a clinical associate at what was then the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases from 1963 to 1965, and who was head of the section on pharmacogenetics at the National Heart Institute from 1965 to 1968, died on July 23.

A native of New York City, he attended Harvard College, where he majored in American literature and history and graduated both magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went to Harvard Medical School, graduating magna cum laude as well.

Vesell did his postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University with several Nobel Prize winners and at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He then met his late wife, Kristen Peery Vesell, while they were both working at NIH.

In 1968, Vesell became the founding chair of pharmacology at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where he served as chair for 32 years. He served as assistant dean for graduate education for 22 years and was recognized as an emeritus and Evan Pugh professor, the university’s highest honor.

Vesell published more than 350 articles on pharmacogenomics and received many awards and honorary degrees including an honorary degree from both Penn State University and Marburg University in Germany. The genetic codes on the walls of the Penn State Institute for Personalized Medicine represent his genes.

He is survived by two daughters, Liane Vesell of Boca Raton, Fla., and Hilary Vesell of Hershey, Pa.

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