Society News Archive

14 December 2015
Robert Brent, MD, PhD, Receives Honor for Life of Achievement

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the National Academy of Medicine bestowed an honor for a life of achievement to Robert Brent, MD, PhD, who has volunteered innumerable hours to the Health Physics Society (HPS) answering questions from women about radiation and its effect on the fetus.

For more than 60 years, Brent has provided free consultations to women who were pregnant or who wanted to become pregnant and were concerned about risks from radiation. Many had been told by their doctors to abort. At first, they contacted him by mail or telephone. These days, they find him through the "Ask the Experts" feature of the HPS website. Read more here.

The 2015 Gustav O. Lienhard Award was presented to Brent, head of the Developmental Biology Lab, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and Louis and Bess Stein Professor of Pediatrics, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University. The award from the RWJF, administered through the National Academy of Medicine, was presented at the Academy's annual meeting held in Washington, DC, in October. It is accompanied by a medal and $40,000.

The Lienhard Award honors outstanding achievement in improving personal health care services in the United States. Each year, an honoree is chosen whose work reflects the values and commitment of Lienhard, who served as chair of RWJF's board of trustees from 1971 to 1986, a period in which the RWJF emerged as a national leader in philanthropy in health care. Nominees are judged on the basis of their achievements, the impact of their work, and their success in overcoming barriers to change the health care system.

Brent is a world-renowned expert on the effects of radiation on the human embryo and in the causes and prevention of congenital malformations. "Robert Brent has made outstanding contributions to personal health care services in this nation, both through his ground-breaking research on the level of risk posed by radiation and through his capacity to communicate those risks compassionately to patients," said Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine. "His work has touched the lives of countless women and their families for nearly 60 years and has led to truly historic changes in the way women are counseled about risks to the unborn child."

Read more here.