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Wistar rat award

Helen Dean King Award

Given each year, the Helen Dean King Award presented by Wistar’s Women & Science Program brings an inspiring lecture by a prestigious scholar in the nation to create an opportunity to talk about the persistent challenges for increasing participation of women in the field.

The award is named after Dr. Helen Dean King - a well-respected geneticist, the first female scientist to work at Wistar, and one of only a handful of women scientists in the nation who worked in the male-dominated field at the turn of the 20th century. Dr. King was instrumental in breeding the first standardized laboratory model known as the Wistar rat, which is still used worldwide today. This award is given in testament of Dr. King for her contribution to biomedical science and paving the way for women scientists.

Past Award Recipients

2020

Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D.

Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and Chair of Molecular Biology
Princeton University

2019

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.
American Cancer Society Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine
University of Washington

2018

Shirley M. Tilghman, Ph.D.

Shirley M. Tilghman, Ph.D.
President Emerita
Princeton University

2017

Nancy H. Hopkins, Ph.D.

Nancy H. Hopkins, Ph.D.
The Amgen, Inc. Professor of Biology Emerita
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Helen Dean King

Who is Helen Dean King?

Helen Dean King, Ph.D., was a geneticist and one of a small handful of women scientists working in the largely male-dominated field of science at the turn of the 20th century. She was Wistar’s first female scientist, employed from 1909 until her retirement in 1950. At the time, she was the only woman in America to be hired as a full professor in research. At Wistar, she bred the “Wistar rat” and used it as an experimental model to elucidate the implications of genetics in human heredity. Dr. King published more than 80 research papers and belonged to many scientific societies. In 1932, Dr. King was awarded the Ellen Richards Research Prize, once known as the “Women’s Nobel.”