Dr. William Danforth, Founder (1926-2020)
Dr. William H. Danforth served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, Chancellor Emeritus of Washington University, and Chair of the BioStL Coalition.
Dr. Danforth chaired the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research, Education and Economics Task Force whose report in 2004 prompted Congress to establish the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA is home to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the focal point of federal support for investigator-initiated agriculture research.
Dr. Danforth was Chancellor of Washington University from 1971 to 1995, a period in which the University recruited some of the world’s leading plant scientists. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Washington University from July l, l995 to June 30, 1999.
Danforth joined the Washington University Medical School faculty in l957. In l967, he was appointed professor of internal medicine and from 1965 to 1971 he was Vice Chancellor of Medical Affairs and president of the Washington University Medical Center.
Dr. Danforth is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and served on the IOM governing Council from l977-79. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April l0, l926, he received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in l95l. After completing his internship in medicine at Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, he served in the United States Navy from l952-54. He returned to St. Louis to continue his medical training at Barnes Hospital and at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Danforth joined the Washington University Medical School faculty in l957. In l967, he was appointed professor of internal medicine, which is his present faculty rank at the University. From l965-7l, Dr. Danforth served as Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and as president of the Washington University Medical Center. Dr. Danforth became Washington University’s thirteenth Chancellor July l, l97l and served until his retirement June 30, l995. During this time the University recruited many eminent plant scientists. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Washington University from July 1, l995 to June 30, 1999. Dr. Danforth is a member of the Institute of Medicine and served on the Council l977-79.
Dr. Danforth was appointed to chair the Research, Education and Economics Task Force for the USDA by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman in 2003. The Task Force reported in 2004. That report led to legislation by the Congress that established the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which began with great hopes for support for high quality agricultural research.
He was a trustee of the American Youth Foundation and a former trustee of the Danforth Foundation. He co-chaired the Board of Directors of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and served on the Boards of Directors of Ralston Purina Company, McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, BJC Health System, and Energizer Holdings, Inc.