Alabama Academy of Honor


J. Claude Bennett

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1987 and altered in October 2002.

Dr. Bennett was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on December 12, 1933. He has three children: Katharine (Katya) Bennett O'Leary of Birmingham, Miller Bennett Piggott of Birmingham, and Clark B. Bennett of Ft. Collins, Colorado. His beloved wife, Nancy Miller Bennett, passed away unexpectedly on March 21, 2001.

Dr. Bennet's undergraduate degree was received from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama in 1954. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1958. Following house staff training in Birmingham he served fellowships at the Massachusetts General Hospital for rheumatology, the National Institutes of Health for molecular biology, and California Institute of Technology for molecular genetics.

He returned to Birmingham in 1965 to join the Department of Medicine at the Universtiy of Alabama at Birmingham as an Assistant Professor. From 1977-82, he was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Director of the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. From 1977-84, he was Director of the Multipurpose Arthritis Center at UAB. In 1982, he was named Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine, and in 1992 was honored with the William and Evalina Spencer Chair in Medical Science Leadership. Dr. Bennett has had an active career in research, with over two hundred scientific publications, and in medical education as the editor of the Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 19th, 20th, and 21st editions; editor-in-chief of Arthritis and Rheumatism from 1975-80; and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Medicine from 1986-97.

He has been honored by a number of distinguished organizations including the Williams Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine in 1994, the John Phillips Memorial Award in 1993, the Seal Harris Award from the Southern Medical Association, the 2000 Kober Medal from the Association of American Physicians, and holds Mastership in the American College of Physicians. He has been awarded honorary degrees by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and by the University of Leipzig, Germany.

Dr. Bennett has been elected to membership in a number of scholarly organizations including The American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served as President of the American College of Rhuematology from 1981-82, President of the Association of Professors of Medicine from 1991-92, President of the Association of American Physicians from 1996-97, and the Chairman of the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine from 1990-93. On October 1, 1993, he became President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was designated by the University Board of Trustees as Distinguished University Professor Emeritus and became President and Chief Operating Officer of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in December of 1996.

Dr. Bennett is an active member of many professional and academic societies. He actively supports a wide array of civic organizatoins, particularly in the areas of arts and ecology.