Martin Winter, G’76, W’76, believes Penn is positioned to lead “just about every intersection of research and practice there is.” Right now, the intersections that intrigue him most are in science, particularly the translation of laboratory findings into efficacious treatments for humans and animals.
As a philanthropist and vice chair of Penn Vet’s Board of Advisors, Winter has long followed and supported the cancer research of Dr. Nicola Mason, The Paul A. James and Charles A. Gilmore Endowed Chair Professorship within the Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine, and Ellen Puré, PhD, Director, Penn Vet Cancer Center, both of whom collaborate closely with Penn Medicine.
Earlier this fall, intrigued by the work happening at Penn Vet and Penn Medicine in infectious disease, he and his wife established The Martin E. Winter and Pamela Winter Infectious Disease Fellowship Fund to support the School’s new Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases (IIZD).
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“Penn leads in animal and human cancer research, and I don’t see any reason why Penn shouldn’t also take the lead in infectious disease investigation,” said Winter, who has served on the School’s Board of Advisors since 2012.
Among IIZD’s goals are building the field of veterinary specialists with leading-edge microbiology and infectious disease skills; expanding the size and readiness of a veterinary workforce that is poised to detect infectious disease; and preparing and grooming veterinary professionals to respond to future zoonotic outbreaks.
Designed to bring talented people to IIZD, the Martins’ eponymous fund provides financial support to rising experts focusing on infectious disease research under the direction of IIZD faculty. It will help the institute attract and retain veterinary, master’s, and PhD students, as well as residents — particularly from underrepresented communities — who are motivated to participate in this new well-resourced, multidisciplinary program.
Winter co-heads the Healthcare Industry Group at the global consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal and has seen many enterprises drive change and make an impact. He is excited to see IIZD take off: “Penn Vet has the faculty; we have the research capability; we have the intersection with human medicine that positions Chris Hunter (IIZD’s director) and IIZD faculty members to really step on the gas and develop tools that rapidly address vaccination issues, for example.”
The world is primed for this, added Winter, “COVID-19 showed us the multidimensional reach of veterinarians and veterinary science. Veterinarians are in positions they may not have pursued 40 years ago. Take Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, a DVM, PhD. He’s leading a major pharmaceutical company that’s been central to COVID-19 prevention. These are the areas veterinarians need to be and increasingly are.”
Martin said the opportunity to train young researchers in these areas is what sets Penn Vet apart and inspired him and Pam to give.
“The close connection among Penn Vet and Penn Medicine — the fluidity of ideas between the two — has extraordinary implications,” he said. “These are incredibly focused folks who have learned so much and do a great job applying their knowledge. And, at the end of the day, training new people is key to their work. It helps us from a wildlife perspective; it helps us from a food animal perspective; and it helps us from a companion animal perspective. As a lay person who understands the science only so much, I am proud to be part of this bold new and never more urgent initiative.”