In Memoriam

In memoriam: Joel S. Bennett

Courtney Chandler
Jan. 17, 2022

Joel S. Bennett, a blood researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, died June 21, of pancreatic cancer. He was 78.

Bennet was born in 1942 to Marvin and Rhoda Bennett and grew up in Southfield, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a premed bachelor’s degree in 1963 and a medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1967.

Family photo
Joel S. Bennett

After earning his M.D., Bennett went to University of Pennsylvania for a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology–oncology. Outside of briefly serving as a physician in the U.S. Air Force, Bennett remained a member of Penn’s medical and academic community for over 40 years.

Bennett’s research focused on understanding the biophysical and molecular interactions of tiny blood cells called platelets. He was the first to discover that a protein produced by the liver called fibrinogen binds platelets. This binding results in clumping and accumulation of platelets that is important for clotting and can play a role in heart attacks or strokes.

This discovery and Bennett’s other research into platelet biology contributed to the development of drugs that block platelet aggregation, commonly known as blood thinners. Today these drugs are critical to preventing blood clots in certain at-risk patients.

Bennett received various awards in recognition of his work, including the Ernest Beutler Prize from the American Society of Hematology, the society’s highest honor. He was also recognized by the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

According to an obituary in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bennett is remembered by his colleagues for his scientific acumen, devotion to his patients and dedication as an educator.

Bennett is survived by his wife, Evelyn; three sons, Joe, David and Andrew Bennett; two daughters, Lisa Bennett and Lisa Dunn; a brother and sister; and nine grandchildren.

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Courtney Chandler

Courtney Chandler is a biochemist and microbiologist in Baltimore, Md., and a careers columnist for ASBMB Today.

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