Dr. Robert L. Brent Receives John Scott Award

Receiving Esteemed John Scott Award, Dr. Robert L. Brent in Historic Company

On November 22, 2013, one of the Society’s first members, Robert L. Brent, MD, PhD, DSc, will receive the John Scott Award at The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Brent was selected for his meritorious work on “environmental causes of birth defects including environmental exposure to drugs, chemicals, ionizing radiation, microwaves, and ultrasound.”

First given in 1822, the John Scott Award was reserved for “ingenious men or women who make useful inventions.” Its namesake and endower left in his will $7,000 in stock to “the Corporation of Philadelphia,” $3,000 of which was to be used for “Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin’s Legacy” and the remainder for the aforementioned award (http://garfield.library.upenn.edu/johnscottaward.html).

As a John Scott Award recipient, Dr. Brent is in historic company. Previous recipients, to name a few after its eligibility was expanded to the international community, include Marie Curie (1921), Orville Wright (1925), Thomas Edison (1928), Nikola Tesla (1934) Sir Alexander Fleming (1944), and Jonas Salk (1957).


Dr. Brent’s contributions to the field of teratology are substantial, but this award focused on one of his earliest research findings, from 1951, indicating that tumors appeared in rat embryos irradiated in utero and then disappeared. The hypothesis was that the omnipotential cells of the embryo replaced the damaged cells and that the surviving embryos were less vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation. Fifty-seven years later, Dr. Brent’s position was supported by Preston et. al. (2008) in a cohort study of data from the Hiroshima in utero bombing survivors who were less vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than irradiated children or adults - exactly what Dr. Brent concluded 50 years earlier when he performed his research as a 2nd year medical and graduate student at the University of Rochester in the radiation embryology section of the University’s atomic energy project.

Dr. Brent has been a faculty member at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia for 56 years and at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE.   Congratulations to Bob on receiving this prestigious award!







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