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2011 Distinguished Alumnus

Posted: June 28, 2012

John Gearhart '64 Hort

John D. Gearhart '64 Agr is director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is also the James W. Effron University Professor with an appointment jointly shared between the School of Medicine and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Gearhart is a leader in the field of genetic research and his work is considered to be one of the most significant advances in human biology.  His groundbreaking work focusses on the role of genes in regulationg the formation of human tissues, especially as it relates to mental retardation, Down syndrome and other congenital birth defects.  Gearhart led one of the two research teams that first identified and isolated human pluripotent stem cells in 1998.  Gearhart was previously the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Stem Cell Program and the Division of Developmental Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was one the faculty for more than 20 years.

Gearhart has written or co-authored 221 publications relating to transgenesis, Down's syndrome and stem cells.  Among his numerous scientific hornors are the Basil O'Connor Starter Research Award from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement.  He was selected as a Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Scholar in Mental Retardation.

Gearhart was recognized with the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award in 2000 and the University Alumni Fellow Award in 2009. He was inducted into the Armsby Honor Society in 2010.