Remembering Dr. Kirk Wuepper (1938-1994)

| Steve Bieler

(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the May/June 1995 Bulletin, the forerunner of Psoriasis Advance. We've added to the original story based on our continuing research into our history. It appears for the first time online in honor of our 50th celebration.)

Dr. Kirk Wuepper, 56, died December 1, 1994, in Astoria, Oregon. Wuepper (pronounced "Wepper," shown here with his research assistant, Silvija Coulter, MSc) received many awards and honors for his research into psoriasis. 

Wuepper, who had psoriasis himself, was an early pioneer in genetic research in psoriasis. He played a significant role in the conception and birth of the National Psoriasis Tissue Bank (now the Victor Henschel BioBank), including a large cash donation in 1987. Psoriasis samples collected by Wuepper were eventually added to this collection.

"Dr. Wuepper was a scientist of exceptional skill and brilliance," said NPF Executive Director Gail Zimmerman. "He had a vision of an international effort to find the genetic causes of psoriasis. We regret only that he could not have been part of the Bank's work. His labors set the groundwork for NPF's genetic research program."

Wuepper continued to consult with the scientists managing the Tissue Bank when funds were raised to set it up in 1992. He was highly enthusiastic about the Tissue Bank's value and srongly encouraged NPF and the scientists in their efforts to get the Bank established. Dr. Anne Bowcock, a geneticist at the University of Texas who worked with the Tissue Bank, later commented that Wuepper's samples were "excellent" and made a significant contribution to her analysis.

Wuepper trained at the University of Michigan. He came to the dermatology department at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon, from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. His friend and colleague, Dr. Jon Hanifin, joined the faculty at OHSU in the early 1970s and helped to recruit Wuepper. "We hired him on the spot!" Hanifin recalled.

Writing in the wake of Wuepper's death, Hanifin said, "Kirk Wuepper’s insights into the dermatologic sciences and his always clear and questioning mind set a worthy example for all who worked with him. His short span of years burgeons with scientic accomplishment." 

Upon his death, Wuepper left the Foundation a generous bequest of $150,000, for which NPF is most grateful. This bequest is a living testament to Wuepper's commitment to people with psoriasis and to NPF.

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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