Penn Vet Receives $3M to Establish Professorship in Honor of National Medal of Science Laureate

Ralph Brinster was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010, making him the first and only veterinarian to receive the prestigious award. Images via Penn Vet.

Penn VetThrough the generosity of Henrietta Alexander, Penn Vet will establish the Ralph L. Brinster President’s Distinguished Professorship in honor of Dr. Ralph Brinster, renowned faculty member, scientist, and National Medal of Science laureate.

The Professorship will allow Penn Vet to recruit a faculty member who will contribute to the preeminence of the school and university.

The $3 million gift exemplifies Alexander’s ongoing commitment to animal and human health, and further extends her family’s rich history at Penn, dating back to the late 19th century, when Alexander’s great-grandfather, John B. Deaver, graduated from Penn’s School of Medicine.

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“I wanted to make a gift that would have lasting impact, and Penn Vet was an obvious choice given my long-standing relationship with Dr. Brinster through the Kleberg Foundation, and my family’s long legacy at Penn Medicine,” said Alexander.

“It is an expression of both my ongoing confidence in Penn Vet and my admiration for Dr. Brinster. His transformational work has set global standards in research and innovation in animal and human health.”

Ralph Brinster

The Professorship is named for Ralph Brinster, the Richard King Mellon Professor of Reproductive Physiology at Penn Vet and a trailblazer in the development of techniques for manipulating the cellular and genetic composition of early mouse embryos. These techniques have made the mouse the major genetic model for understanding the basis of animal biology and disease.

His findings have served as the foundation for genetic engineering, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, knockout technology, and cloning. His range of contributions is unmatched in the field.

For his groundbreaking work, Brinster was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010, making him the first and only veterinarian to receive the prestigious award, and one of only eight scientists at Penn to receive this distinction in the last 50 years.

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Alexander, who grew up on a farm near Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square and joined the Penn Vet Board of Overseers in 1986, learned of Brinster’s work while serving as director of the Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.

“Henrietta has been a valued friend and a strong advocate for our research and for science for many years, and shows extraordinary insight into scientific goals and their fundamental importance to animal health and human advancement,” said Brinster. “I am enormously honored and extremely grateful to have our research recognized in this distinctive manner, particularly by such a close and knowledgeable friend.”

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