Dr. Joel S. Bennett, groundbreaking blood researcher, passed away peacefully at home on June 21 at the age of 78. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Bennett was Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Michigan for his undergraduate and medical education, and then came to Penn in 1967 for both his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Hematology-Oncology. Except for a stint as a physician in the Air Force, Dr. Bennett never left Penn. During his fellowship training, he developed a love affair with platelets that never ended. Dr. Bennett became one of the early members of Penn's Hematology-Oncology Division, and he was an invaluable member of the community for over four decades. During his time, Dr. Bennett's career flourished, and he became an internationally recognized authority on platelet biology. He was the first to recognize that fibrinogen bound to the platelet GPIIb-IIIa receptor, thereby defining the molecular mechanism by which platelets aggregate together. This important finding paved the way for the development of drugs to block this process, such as abciximab and eptifibatide that have been used in millions of patients with coronary artery disease.
Dr. Bennett's scientific contributions were published in the most renowned journals, and he was recognized by the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians for the excellence and breadth of his work. The American Society of Hematology named him a recipient of their Beutler Prize – this society's highest honor. Dr. Bennett served as a long-standing chair of a NHLBI study section for Program Project grants, and for many years, was a member of the Department of Medicine's Committee on Appointments and Promotions. His clinical acumen and his exquisite and thoughtful care of his patients was a lesson in grace and all that it means to be a doctor – and was the one from whom all his peers and colleagues sought advice about their most pressing cases.
An avid tennis player, Dr. Bennett was preceded in death by his father, Marvin and his mother, Rhoda. He is survived by his wife Evelyn, his children Lisa Bennett, Andrew Bennett, Lisa Dunn, Joe Goodman, David Goodman, his brother David Bennett and sister, Barbara Palmer, and nine grandchildren.