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Leading Immunologist Katherine L. Knight to Receive 2015 Marion Spencer Fay Award

August 18, 2015

Drexel University College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership has selected noted immunologist Katherine L. Knight as the 2015 recipient of its Marion Spencer Fay Award. The award, which annually recognizes luminary women in science and medicine, is named for a pioneering former president of the College’s forerunner institution, the Woman’s Medical College of Philadelphia

Knight is professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and co-founder of the Infectious Disease and Immunology Institute at Loyola University Chicago. 

With continuous research funding from the National Institutes of Health for more than 45 years, Knight is the recognized international leader in the field of immunology, with broad implications for human health and disease. Her work has had great impact on research in cancer, aging, infections and other conditions. In addition to her prominence as an outstanding educator and researcher, Knight is renowned for mentoring students and faculty, especially women. 

Marion Spencer Fay
Marion Spencer Fay, PhD, was dean and president of Woman's Medical College of Philadelphia, a precursor to the Drexel University College of Medicine, from 1946-63.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Elmira College and a doctorate in chemistry from Indiana University.  She rose through the academic ranks at the University of Illinois and was recruited to Loyola University Chicago in 1988 to serve as chair of Microbiology & Immunology. 

Knight’s research currently is funded by four multi-year grants totaling more than $4 million and she has published her original research in more than 170 articles in leading scientific journals.  She has received numerous accolades and awards for her landmark work, including a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Immunologists. 

“We are delighted to honor Dr. Knight for her innovative and important research,” said Lynn H. Yeakel, director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership.  “Her impressive body of work, combined with her commitment to mentoring young scientists, especially women, set her apart from a highly accomplished group of nominees.”

“I am extremely honored and grateful to receive the Marion Spencer Fay Award and join the past recipients, many of whom I have long admired and respected,” said Knight.  

The national Marion Spencer Fay Award, now in its 52nd year, annually recognizes a woman physician and/or scientist who has made an exceptionally significant contribution to health care as a practitioner, medical educator, administrator and/or research scientist and who exhibits significant future potential.

The award, which includes a $10,000 honorarium, will be presented on Thursday, November 19, 2015, at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia.  Knight will deliver the annual Marion Spencer Fay Award Lecture at 4 p.m. and a reception will follow.  Her lecture is titled, “Harnessing Bacteria to Fight Disease: A Professional Scientific Journey.”

Marion Spencer Fay, PhD, was dean and president of Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1963. The National Board for Women in Medicine established this award in her name in 1963 to recognize her pioneering leadership. Drexel University College of Medicine maintains the traditions of the Woman’s Medical College and the Medical College of Pennsylvania that reflect a 160-year legacy of excellence.

Past Marion Spencer Fay Award honorees include Phyllis A. Dennery, MD, Chief of Neonatology and Newborn Services at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Nancy C. Andrews, MD, PhD, Dean, Duke University School of Medicine; Nancy Adler, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; and Julie Overbaugh, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The award ceremony on Nov. 19 is free and open to the public. RSVP by contacting Janine Barber, program manager at the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at