On October 19, 2015, Teratology Society Past President Robert L. Brent, MD, PhD, DSc (hon) received the National Academy of Medicine Gustav O. Lienhard Award. Congratulations Dr. Brent!
The Gustav O. Lienhard Award, established in 1986, is presented annually by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in honor of Gustav O. Lienhard, Chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1986. The award--a medal and $40,000--recognizes individuals for outstanding achievement in improving health care services in the United States. Support for the award is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Each year, a selection committee appointed by the IOM reviews nominations based on selection criteria that reflect the ideals and work of Mr. Lienhard and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Dr. Brent's research with animal models has demonstrated that birth defects, growth retardation, mental retardation, and miscarriage are all threshold effects of radiation exposure, and that the vast majority of diagnostic radiological tests (exposure below 0.1 Gy) do not pose an additional measurable risk to the unborn child. These findings have been important for advising women about the risks of cancer treatment or diagnostic radiological procedures during pregnancy. Other significant research contributions include the discovery that although very young embryos are extremely vulnerable to radiation, those that survive are not at increased risk for congenital malformations (a finding called the "all or none" phenomenon); and the development of a systematic methodology for evaluating the risk of reproductive toxicants.
Throughout his career, first by letter and telephone and finally through the Internet, Dr. Brent has offered free risk counseling to expectant mothers worldwide. He has written and lectured extensively on the importance of training physicians to counsel pregnant women and their families with patience and compassion -- and with a focus on education and empowerment.
Dr. Brent joined the Teratology Society in 1960 and served as President from 1967 to 1968. Dr. Brent’s contributions to the Society and the field are honored each year through the Robert L. Brent Lecture during which the Teratogen Update is presented to facilitate the discussion of new and old teratogens during the Teratology Society Annual Meeting.
Dr. Brent is currently the Louis and Bess Stein Professor of Pediatrics of the Sidney Kimmel College of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Head of the Developmental Biology Laboratory at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Congratulations to Dr. Brent on this well-deserved recognition!