Peter Walter Jeffs

January 9, 1933January 3, 2021

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Dr. Peter Walter Jeffs, age 87, of Chapel Hill, died Sunday January 3rd, 2021 at the Dubose Center at Cedars of Chapel Hill.

Born in Luton, England, Peter wed his beloved wife of 63 years, Christina Morrison Jeffs, on June 19, 1957. Only days later they left for South Africa where Peter began his Ph.D. studies in organic chemistry at the University of Natal. During their time in South Africa, their sons Gavin (1959) and Roger (1961) were born. Their next adventure, in 1962, awaited them in Bloomington, Indiana where Peter completed his post-doctoral fellowship. While in Indiana, their daughter Susan (1964) was born. All of this hard work, culminated in a move to Durham, NC in 1964 where Peter spent 20+ years in the department of chemistry at Duke University, becoming one of the youngest tenured full professors in Duke’s history, and the director of graduate studies. Their daughter Bridget (1968) was born during this time.

Peter’s work was purposed towards understanding the chemical and structural basis of small molecules, peptides and proteins so that therapeutic targets could be optimally targeted, and as such was part of the modern evolution and advancement of medicinal chemistry.

Peter transitioned from academia to the pharmaceutical industry in 1982, when he took a position at SmithKline Beecham in Philadelphia, PA so that he could more directly apply his skills to delivering better therapies to patients. The lure of North Carolina held strong however, and Peter and Christina returned to Chapel Hill in 1987 where Peter was part of the original scientific founding team for Glaxo's research entry in the United States. His worked continued at Glaxo for nearly a decade, after which he joined Trimeris, a Duke-spinout company focused on HIV, and subsequently Parion Sciences, a development stage company dedicated to research, development, and commercialization of Dry Eye disease and Cystic Fibrosis.

Peter’s academic and professional career allowed him the opportunity to work alongside and mentor many colleagues and students and provided a rich source of lasting and cherished friendships. His love of Duke basketball spanned over 50 years and was only matched by his passion for soccer, where he was an accomplished youth footballer as a member of the Luton Town youth team, and later a referee of youth, college and professional games in the US.

But his greatest love was his family. Peter and Christina emigrated to the US in 1962 full of hope, but on their own with their young family. Their family tree has blossomed considerably, and now includes Gavin and Tammy Jeffs of Richmond VA, Roger and Lisa Jeffs of Chapel Hill, NC, Susan and Mitch Bainwol of Washington, DC, and Bridget and Matt Smith, of Raleigh, NC. Grandchildren are abundant and include Andrew, Christina, Megan, Peter, Sydney, Emily, Brent, Garrett, Keenan, and Holden. And great-grandchildren, Zoey, Jayden, Kadence, Avery, and Elly. A beloved cousin, Michael Jeffs, of Luton, England also remains to hold his memory high.

The Jeffs family is eternally grateful to the staff and caregivers at Dubose Health Center for their loving and attentive care throughout these past years.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks that gifts be made to a fund established in 2016 in his honor at Duke: The Peter Walter Jeffs Graduate Fellowship, Alumni and Development Records, Box 90581, Durham, NC 27708.

Arrangements by Brown-Wynne, 300 Saint Mary's Street, Raleigh.


  • The Peter Walter Jeffs Graduate Fellowship


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Peter Walter Jeffs

have a memory or condolence to add?