Genetic therapy pioneer Jon A. Wolff, MD, died on April 17, 2020.

In 1988, he joined the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) Department of Pediatrics, where he became a professor and served for many years as chief of the Division of Genetics and Metabolism. He also strongly supported the Master of Genetic Counselor Studies Program.

Jon Wolff
Jon Wolff

Wolff played a huge role in developing gene therapy for liver and brain disorders, and helped develop techniques to transfer genes and nucleic acids into cells. With more than 150 scientific publications and 80 patents to his credit, he served on boards of numerous national organizations and as a scientific advisor to the French Muscular Dystrophy Association.

He helped transform standards of care for genetic conditions. As an advisory member for the Wisconsin Newborn Screening Program, Wolff helped create programs to detect metabolic and genetic conditions. He also improved educational offerings at various levels.

Having earned his medical degree from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Wolff completed pediatrics and medical genetics clinical training at the University of California, San Diego, and did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Agouron Institute.

In 1995 in Madison, Wolff co-founded MirusBio Corporation, where he led work on siRNA-transfer nanotechnologies. Throughout his career, he was dedicated to ensuring the ethical use of genetics and providing innovative, compassionate care for people with genetic disorders. This led to his creation of the non-profit, charitable Genetic Support Foundation.

SMPH Professor Emeritus Patrick Remington, MD ’81, MPH, as a colleague and friend, shares, “In addition to being a brilliant physician-scientist, Jon treasured the time that he spent with his family and friends. He transformed from a New York City kid into a consummate Wisconsin silent sports enthusiast. He taught us all how to embrace each day as a new adventure with passion, curiosity and gratitude.”