ROBERT L. BRENT
1927 - 2021
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BRENT ROBERT L. Passed away at home on February 24, 2021 at the age of 93. He was born of Polish Jewish immigrant parents, Charles and Rose Brent, in Rochester, NY in October 1927. He attended school in Rochester and then obtained a Bachelor's degree, followed by a PhD, and then finally an MD. He married his high school sweetheart, Lillian Brent, during his education. His first two children, David and James, were born in Rochester. He then moved to Boston and then Washington, DC where Lawrence was born. His family finally settled in Philadelphia where Deborah was born. Robert was a man of incredible physical strength and stamina and unending energy until his final years. He was recruited by Thomas Jefferson University at the age 31. He built the Department of Pediatrics from 3 to over 90 faculty over the almost 30 years of his tenure. He was Professor of Pediatrics, Radiology, and Anatomy. He was the third Distinguished Professor in Jefferson's history. He received three teaching awards from national organizations. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Rochester, Robley Evans Medal, Taylor Lectureship and Prize, and the John Scott Award. He was member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. He maintained funding for his laboratory for over 40 years from the NIH and other organizations and made many scientific discoveries publishing over 500 manuscripts, several books, and was the editor of "Teratology" for 17 years. He described several basic principles of embryology including hypothesizing the existence of embryonic stem cells in 1953. He trained many medical students, pediatric residents, and young scientists, many of whom became life-long friends. He established the Health Physics Society Pregnancy website through which he counseled thousands of pregnant women using the internet who had exposures giving the necessary information to make critical decisions. He was invited to give many presentations around the world. He was also an avid tennis player until the age of 82. Lillian was the saver and Robert was the investor. They were great benefactors to the causes that were close to their hearts. These included Thomas Jefferson University, University of Rochester, and Jewish charities. Robert and Lillian established several endowed positions at Jefferson, several scholarships for medical students, and an endowment for Alumni giving. The University of Rochester School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony is named in their honor. After the death of James, Robert and Lillian donated money to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia including a scholarship in memory of their deceased son, Jimmy Brent. Robert never really retired. In his late 80s he continued to work writing papers, consulting, and lecturing until his health failed. In their later years, Robert and Lillian lived half the year in Sarasota only returning full-time to Philadelphia in the last few years. When Lillian, his bride of 71 years, passed away several months ago, he just said, "I loved her very much". In his final days, he rested in bed and cared for by wonderful home health aids, Jeanette, Paula, and Ann. He is predeceased by his son, James, and survived by children: David (Nancy), Lawrence (Gina), and Deborah (Joseph); 11 grandchildren: Rebecca, Daniel, Alyssa, Jacob, Joshua, James, Julia, Rachel, Hannah, Jonathan, Michael; and 16 great grandchildren.


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Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Mar. 12, 2021.
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