The MU School of Medicine mourns the loss of former MU associate professor and health care pioneer Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP, FRCP, who passed away on Jan. 21, 2024. She was 76.

Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP, FRCP
Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP, FRCP

Mitchell’s tenure in mid-Missouri began in 1984 as a clinical assistant professor of Medicine at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. From 1985-92, she served multiple faculty and leadership roles across the University of Missouri, including assistant to the Dean for Minority Affairs and director of MU’s Sickle Cell Center and Tumor Marker Laboratory.

In 1988, Mitchell chaired a task force at MU to review the status of minority affairs. At that time, there were six total minority students in the graduating classes of 1986 and 1987. The committee’s long-term solutions to improving diversity in the School of Medicine led to positive change, emphasizing tutorial and task preparation assistance, financial aid and more.

Three years later, Mitchell was selected for a faculty award in 1991 by the MU Alumni Association, honoring the accomplishments in her respective field, excellence in fulfilling academic responsibilities and exemplary relationships with students.

Her presence was felt in Missouri’s community during The Great Flood of 1993, as she led a team of microbiologists to help setup laboratories to test nearly 1,000 well water samples for harmful bacteria as the State’s lab was engulfed in water. Additionally, Mitchell provided safe drinking water and administered hepatitis vaccines during the historical flooding, leading to her appointment of Missouri Surgeon General.

Mitchell was also known for her aid to underserved children of Missouri, including operating free athletic participation clinics. Her commitment to assisting others had no boundaries, evident by a daily six-hour drive to a large remote farming community in Missouri that possessed a large incidence of sickle cell disease. Mitchell and the clinics assisted in identifying patients who ultimately were treated at MU.

Following her tenure at MU, Mitchell joined Thomas Jefferson University in 1995, where she worked for nearly 30 years before her recent passing.

Mitchell also left a trailblazing impact outside the classroom and hospital. She served in the U.S. Air Force as an active duty and reserve physician from 1978-87, ultimately rising to become the first female physician in history to attain the rank of brigadier general. Mitchell accumulated more than 15 service medals and ribbons over her 30 years of service.

She served as the 116th president of the National Medical Association and was an appointed member of the President’s Cancer Panel from 2019-23. Mitchell’s global reach included teachings and lectures on the treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies. She authored and co-authored over 100 articles, book chapters and abstracts on cancer treatment, prevention and control.


Rick Barohn, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean, School of Medicine