Villanova University Awards 2010 Mendel Medal to Dr. Robert G. Webster of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Villanova’s Mendel Medal, est. 1928, recognizes outstanding work in the field of science

 Prominent infectious diseases researcher to speak at Villanova Sept. 24

VILLANOVA, Pa., September 10, 2010 – Villanova University has selected Robert G. Webster, Ph.D, professor and Rose Marie Thomas Chair in the Division of Virology/Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as the recipient of its 2010 Mendel Medal. Established in 1928, the Mendel Medal honors pioneers in the sciences and is awarded to “outstanding scientists who have advanced the cause of science, and, by their lives and their scientific standing before the world, have demonstrated that no intrinsic conflict exists between true science and true religion.”

Dr. Robert Webster will deliver the Mendel Medal Lecture, "The role of waterbirds in the genesis of pandemic influenza viruses," Friday, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m., in the Villanova Room of The Connelly Center. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Since 1928, Villanova has celebrated the legacy of Gregor Mendel through the establishment of the Mendel Medal, which recognizes the scientific accomplishments and religious conviction of outstanding scientists,” said the Rev. Kail C. Ellis, O.S.A., Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs at Villanova University. “The University is pleased to honor Dr. Robert Webster, whose contributions to science are in the tradition of Gregor Mendel. Dr. Webster’s work has contributed significantly to our knowledge of influenza as an emerging pathogen.”

Dr. Webster’s research focuses on the importance of influenza viruses in aquatic birds as a major reservoir of viruses and their role in the evolution of new pandemic strains for humans and animals. His interests include the emergence and control of viruses, and the development of new vaccines.

A native of New Zealand, Dr. Webster has written over 500 original articles and reviews on influenza viruses and has trained numerous scientists who now contribute to our understanding of influenza. He works in the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS), which he initiated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Dr. Webster is a Fellow in the Royal Society, London, the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Villanova University established the Mendel Medal to recognize scientific accomplishment and religious conviction as epitomized by Gregor Johann Mendel – commonly known as the “father of genetics” – the Augustinian priest and scientist who discovered the celebrated laws of heredity that now bear his name. Villanova University is one of only two Catholic Augustinian institutions of higher education in the nation.

Past recipients have included Nobel Laureates, outstanding medical researchers, pioneers in physics, astrophysics and chemistry, and noted scientist-theologians.

 For more information on the Mendel Medal visit: www.villanova.edu/artsci/college/about/awards/mendelmedal/