William P. Jencks (1927-2007) earned his MD from Harvard University in 1951. He went on to intern at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, after which he completed a year of postdoctoral studies in chemistry and biochemistry at Massachusetts General Hospital. His mentor during his postdoctoral year, Dr. Fritz Lipmann, was instrumental in Jencks placement in the Army Medical Service Graduate School Department of Pharmacology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during the Korean War. After two years at Walter Reed, in 1955, he returned to the Lipmann laboratory for another year of postdoctoral studies before continuing on to a postdoctoral opportunity with Robert Woodward at Harvard University in 1956.
Dr. Jencks came to Brandeis University in 1957 to be a part of the new graduate program in biochemistry. At Brandeis he worked his way up from assistant professor to full professor, before becoming professor emeritus at his retirement in 1996. During his academic career Jencks published over 400 articles, many of which are still widely cited and respected in the field of enzymology. He is, perhaps, most well-known for his work related to proteins, specifically lipoproteins, and their impact on heart disease.
During his prolific career William P. Jencks was awarded many honors and accolades including the American Chemical Society Eli Lily Award in Biological Chemistry (1962), American Society of Biological Chemists Award (1993), American Chemical Society’s James Flack Norris Award (1995), and the American Chemical Society Repligen Corporation Award of Biological Processes (1996). In 1971 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Jencks was also a foreign member of the Royal Society and a member of the American Philosophical Society.