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University Communications

May 12 , 2003

La Salle University Bestows Honorary Degrees to Medical Researcher Hilary Koprowski, M.D., Ethicist Lisa Cahill, Ph.D.

La Salle University bestowed honorary degrees on two individuals who have made significant contributions to their respective fields, Hilary Koprowski, M.D., and Lisa Cahill, Ph.D.

Koprowski and Cahill received their honorary degrees at La Salle's commencement, May 11th, at McCarthy Stadium on the University's campus. Tradition at La Salle is for a graduating senior to deliver the commencement address. This year's speaker was Margaret Kane, a communication major from Fort Washington, PA.

The 2003 graduating class numbered,1,479. Bachelor's degrees were awarded to 956 graduates, Associates degrees to 29, Master's degrees to 480, and Doctoral degrees to 14.

One of the world's leading researchers into viruses, Dr. Koprowski's work has led to the elimination of polio through a vaccine, the development of the standard vaccine for rabies and a monoclonal antibody used widely for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Cahill, a professor at Boston College, has also been president of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Society of Christian Ethics. On many occasions she has been a theological consultant to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"It's been 50 years since the discovery of DNA, and society is still grappling with the questions of where medical science has taken us and where it will take us," said Brother Michael McGinniss, President of La Salle. "As a scientist, Dr. Koprowski has created a foundation for significant medical breakthroughs, while Professor Cahill, as a bioethicist, has explored the ethical ramifications of such breakthroughs."

A native of Poland, Koprowski arrived in the United States in 1944. For more 35 years he was Director of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. He currently is Head of the Center for Neurovirology at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University. He has authored more than 800 scientific publications and is co-editor of several journals. His many awards include the "Great Order of Merit" by the President of Poland for his polio research.

Koprowski was nominated for the doctorate by Brother Daniel Burke, a former president of La Salle. "He is a world famous scientific researcher, and his contributions have been incalculable," said Burke.

Cahill is widely acclaimed as a preeminent contemporary Catholic theologian and bioethicist. She is currently the J. Donald Monan, S.J., Professor at Boston College, where she has taught theology since 1976. She is a past president of both the Catholic Theological Society of American and the Society of Christian Ethics.

She was nominated for the doctorate by Geoffrey B. Kelly, a professor of Religion at La Salle.

"Professor Cahill has produced a compelling record in the field of ethics, as she continues to give witness to the moral responsibility that flows from scientific discovery and genetic possibility," said Kelly. "She has provided remarkable service to the Church as an educator, scholar and advisor on the major issues of social ethics in our time."

La Salle is a comprehensive, coeducational university established in 1863 by the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic teaching order. Today, the university educates approximately 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students in nearly 60 academic disciplines at its main campus in northwest Philadelphia and at its Bucks County Center in Newtown, PA. One of seven Christian Brothers colleges and universities in America, La Salle is built on a strong tradition of quality education, service to students and overall excellence.