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Gutmann Named Donald O. Schnuck Family Chair in Neurology for Neurofibromatosis Research

Anne Enright Shepherd

Dec. 4, 2001 – Neurologist David H. Gutmann, M.D., Ph.D., has been named the first Donald O. Schnuck Family Chair in Neurology for Neurofibromatosis Research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The position was made possible by a gift from the Schnuck family, which owns and operates St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc.

The new professorship was announced by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and William A. Peck, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the medical school.

"Doris Schnuck and her family, in honoring Don's legacy, are generously helping to advance medical science not only in St. Louis but for people everywhere," says Wrighton. "The University is extraordinarily grateful to all of them for their continued support."

"The generosity of the Schnuck family recognizes and enhances the work of David Gutmann, one of our top-notch physician-scientists," says Peck. "His groundbreaking research on neurofibromatosis makes him a natural choice for this position. Patients with NF and their families are counting on his basic and clinical studies to lead to better treatment options and brighter futures."

Gutmann, also associate professor of genetics and pediatrics, is a pioneer in research on neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder causing tumors to grow along nerves or on other body tissues such as bones and skin. The disorder affects people from infancy through adulthood and often is associated with learning disabilities. In 1990, Gutmann was part of a research team that discovered the gene for the more common form, NF1, which is characterized by multiple café-au-lait spots and tumors called neurofibromas on or under the skin.

Whereas NF1 affects one in every 4,000 people, the more rare NF2 occurs once in every 40,000 births. People with NF2 have multiple tumors on the cranial and spinal nerves and on both auditory nerves, resulting in hearing loss in the teens or early twenties. Gutmann's research applies to both types of NF. In order to determine how specific genetic alterations lead to the formation and growth of tumors, Gutmann and his colleagues study three of the most common nervous system tumors, astrocytomas, meningiomas and schwannomas. Gutmann earned a bachelor's degree with highest honors, a master's degree in human genetics and a doctorate in microbiology and immunology, all from the University of Michigan, before earning a medical degree from Michigan's Medical School in 1986. After advanced medical training in neurology and human molecular genetics, he joined the Washington University faculty in 1993 as assistant professor of neurology, pediatrics and genetics. He became associate professor in 1998.

Gutmann directs the Neurofibromatosis Program at St. Louis Children's Hospital and is an investigator with the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center of Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was a founding member of the Society of Neuro-Oncology and has actively participated in the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation, serving as vice chairman of its Clinical Advisory Board since 1996. He shares a patent on the NF1 gene.

"The creation of the world's first chair for neurofibromatosis research at Washington University in St. Louis is a major milestone in the history of NF," says Peter Bellermann, president of the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation. "All the right ingredients were in place for this development: A world-class academic institution with a long history of innovative and trailblazing research, an outstanding scientist and clinician as the first occupant of the chair, and a publicly spirited family whose philanthropic activities have improved the lives of many in St. Louis, in Missouri and elsewhere in the nation. On behalf of the NF population worldwide, congratulations and many thanks to Washington University's Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, to Dr. David Gutmann and to Doris Schnuck and her remarkable family."

Donald O. Schnuck and his brother, Edward, developed the family grocery business, which was started in 1939 by their parents, into a thriving company with more than 90 stores in St. Louis and the Midwest. A tireless leader, Donald Schnuck dedicated substantial effort to social service organizations including the United Way, Salvation Army, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In 1990 he was named St. Louis Man of the Year. Donald Schnuck died in 1991 after passing the title of chief executive officer to his eldest son, Craig D. Schnuck, who continues to head the company. Donald's widow, Doris Schnuck, is active in the community with particular interest in research and treatment for neurofibromatosis on behalf of a family member with the disorder. She is a member of the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation's Board of Trustees. She also served on the Friends Boards of the St. Louis Art Museum and the Magic House and is active in the I Have a Dream Foundation. Donald and Doris Schnuck have six children, all of whom hold leadership positions in the family businesses as well as various community organizations.

Craig Schnuck continues to lead Schnuck Markets Inc. as chairman of the board and chief executive officer. In addition to serving on Washington University's Board of Trustees and chairing the Board of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, he is president-elect of Civic Progress.

Scott C. Schnuck joined the family's business in 1975 and has been the company's president and chief operating officer since 1991. He serves on the boards of such local institutions as the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, St. Louis Children's Hospital and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Terry E. Schnuck is Schnuck Markets' secretary and general counsel, overseeing legal and governmental affairs as well as the company's charitable giving programs. His civic positions include chair of the Better Business Bureau Foundation and a director of The Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis.

Mark J. Schnuck is president and chief executive officer of other Schnuck family businesses, the DESCO Group and NAI DESCO Commercial LLC. Created in 1993 and named in honor of Donald and Edward Schnuck, the DESCO Group handles commercial, industrial and retail real estate transactions. Mark Schnuck is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and is an advisory commissioner for the St. Louis Zoological Park Commission.

Todd R. Schnuck is corporate vice president and chief financial officer of Schnuck Markets Inc. and is responsible for the company's accounting, budgeting, internal audit and treasury functions. He serves as the treasurer of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and is a member of the executive committee of the Urban League board. He is past president of the Development Board of St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Nancy Schnuck Diemer is director of community affairs for Schnuck Markets Inc. In that position, she manages corporate charitable contributions, food donations to food banks and partnerships with non-profit organizations. She serves on the Missouri Chapter Neurofibromatosis Foundation's advisory board, the John Burroughs School alumni board and the Operation Food Search board.


The full-time and volunteer faculty of Washington University School of Medicine are the physicians and surgeons of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching andpatient-care institutions in the nation. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Washington University School of Medicine, Office of Medical Public Affairs, Washington University School of Medicine at Washington University Medical Center, Campus Box 8508, 4444 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis MO 63108-2259, (314) 286-0100 FAX: (314) 286-0199 
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