Villanova University Awards Mendel Medal to Esteemed Nurse

The Mendel Medal will be presented to Dr. Betty Ferrell, from City of Hope National Medical Center, recognizing her research and advocacy for palliative and end-of-life care 


Dr. Betty Ferrell, the 53rd recipient of the Mendel Medal

VILLANOVA, Pa. (September 25, 2023) Villanova University has named Betty Ferrell, PhD, RN, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN, Director and Professor of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., as the 53rd recipient of the Mendel Medal. Dr. Ferrell will present the Mendel Medal lecture, titled “Spiritual Care as an Essential Domain of Quality Patient Care,” on Friday, November 17, in the Villanova Room located in the University’s Connelly Center.

The Mendel Medal is named for 19th-century Augustinian friar and scientist Gregor Mendel, best known as “the father of modern genetics,” for his discovery of the celebrated laws of heredity that bear his name. It was first awarded by Villanova in 1929 and is given to outstanding contemporary scientists in recognition of their accomplishments.

“Villanova University is honored to award the 2023 Mendel Medal to Dr. Betty Ferrell,” said Fr. Kail Ellis, OSA, PhD, Special Assistant to the President and Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. “Her research, advocacy and clinical work has been a tremendous source of inspiration and education to generations of nurses and has been invaluable to the patients receiving their care. Not only has she significantly advanced her field in the spirit of Gregor Mendel, but she also truly embodies the Augustinian value of “Caritas.”

Dr. Ferrell is renowned for her research and clinical expertise in pain management, quality of life and palliative care over 46 years in nursing. A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), she has more than 500 peer-reviewed papers published in various journals and texts and is the author of 11 books. Dr. Ferrell is also principal investigator of the “End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium,” one of many funded projects she directs related to palliative care and quality of life issues. Throughout her career, she has been the recipient of dozens of professional accolades, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oncology Nursing Society and a Living Legend Award from the AAN, both in 2021.

As an institution founded by the Augustinian Order, Villanova University plays a key role in sustaining Mendel’s legacy. The Mendel Medal is awarded to outstanding scientists who have done much by their painstaking work to advance the cause of science and, by their lives and their standing before the world as scientists, have demonstrated that between true science and true religion there is no intrinsic conflict. To learn more about the Mendel Medal and its history, please visit the Mendel Medal website.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit