The National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is a Presidential Award that was established back in 1959, and is given to those who are considered to be “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences.”

Nominees for the award are evaluated by a President-appointed committee of 12 scientists and engineers. To date, this prestigious award has been given to 468 individuals who have devoted decades of their careers to research and development.p



One of this Year’s Recipients
On September 27th, I was very excited to learn that Dr Ralph Brinster, Professor of Physiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania was named as one of this year’s seven award recipients. He is being honored for his work in reproductive physiology, specifically for research on manipulation of the mammalian germline, and “for his fundamental contributions to the development and use of transgenic mice. His research has provided experimental foundations and inspiration for progress in germline genetic modification in a range of species, which has generated a revolution in biology, medicine and agriculture.”

Transgenesis involves inserting new genes into the germline of a developing organism – a technique that enables researchers to produce animals with selected traits that can serve as models for the understanding and treatment of disease processes. 

I was excited to hear of his success, not only because he is a fellow veterinarian, but because I literally crossed paths with him multiple times on most days during the four years that I also worked at the School of Veterinary Medicine. For the longest time when I first joined the school, I had no idea who he was – we’d pass in the hallways since we both worked on the same floor. I can say in all honesty that he was one of the nicest human beings you could ever meet. He would always have a smile on his face, and never failed to say hello and chit-chat as he passed by me. Truthfully, I had no idea of his high status there, and in this current climate of the big ego, I certainly would never have guessed that this was a man who’s list of awards and honors was like a stand-alone CV in its own right.

With his characteristic modesty, Dr Brinster remarked: “I got lucky. I always tell my students, ‘If you can choose between talent and luck, take luck.’ Modesty aside though, this award is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon scientists and engineers by the US government. The University’s Provost Vincent Price commented: “The entire Penn community congratulates Ralph Brinster on this tremendously prestigious honor. He has been a pioneer in using fundamental research to address profound and far-reaching biological questions. His innovations have defined entire fields of inquiry, spurred critical new technologies and transformed the study of human biology and disease.”

An amazing achievement by an amazing and inspirational man. I’m proud to have known him.

Congratulations Dr Brinster!


Photo Credit Scott H. Spitzer



  1. Congratulations to him. It’s always a bit sweeter when we know the person deserves it.

    • Oh wow, I was so excited to hear that news this week. He’s such a quiet, unassuming guy – he was often nicknamed “the gene genius”, quite cute! Such a nice fella – even back when I worked there, I remember feeling so impressed by him when I discovered who he was – impressed because of his personality and demeanor. If only many others had similar traits…..

  2. I couldn’t agree more! It’s nice to have confirmation that the big ego isn’t necessary. Thanks for sharing!