Robert A. Prendergast
By way of a charming introduction, long-time MBL scientist, course instructor, and trustee Robert A. Prendergast will tell you that his last name is Anglo-Norman and means “to take.” It would be much more fitting, though, if his name meant “to give” because Bob has given generously to the MBL since he came here in 1968 to study the physiology of immune reactions in sea stars and horseshoe crabs.
A professor emeritus of pathology and ophthalmology at The Wilmer Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bob was first introduced to immunology by Rockefeller University legend Henry Kunkel. Bob is still actively interested in the field and is currently studying an autoimmune ocular disease called Sjögren’s Syndrome, which affects some four million Americans.
Bob first came to the MBL to learn techniques for observing immunity in marine models from his colleague Frederik Bang, a professor at The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health whose MBL research paved the way for the discovery of the Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) test. The LAL test is used extensively to detect the presence of endotoxin in patients. Bob says he appreciated the unencumbered nature of MBL summer research. “I loved the freedom to do research that tickled my fancy,” he recalls.
Over the years he has spent more and more time here, eventually making Falmouth his year-round home and becoming an increasingly ardent MBL supporter. Bob has been an MBL independent investigator, an instructor for the Physiology Course (1972-1976) and the Comparative Pathology Course (1978-1982). An active MBL Society Member who has served on many committees, he is also a member of the MBL Board of Trustees. He is also an avid fan of MBL’s advanced courses, which he calls “the diadems of the institution, one of the reasons it is the place that it is.”
To help assure that the MBL remains vital in the future, Bob has established two generous gift annuities that will support the MBL in the years to come.
“The MBL is worthy of support in all respects—in terms of time, energy, and chiefly financial,” he says. “It’s a one-of-a-kind place, truly a unique institution.”