Sewickley Academy Inducts Renowned Doctor into Science & Technology Hall of Fame

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 10:43 AM

Sewickley Academy inducted Robertson Parkman ’53, M.D.  into its Science & Technology Hall of Fame on Friday, October 11, 2019, at 11:30 a.m. in Rea Auditorium. Dr. Parkman is renowned for his worldwide contributions to patients through medical research and practice in bone marrow and stem cell transplantation.

The ceremony, which kicked off Reunion Weekend, opened with those in attendance singing “America the Beautiful.” Susan (Ratcliffe) Sour, Ph.D. ’55 greeted the crowd and, in keeping with tradition, shared a few slides and interesting facts about the school’s history. She showed a picture of the Class of 1953 (Dr. Parkman’s class) in ninth grade, a class of 13 students. Dr. Sour said, “It’s a phenomenon of our school, and often of life in general, that we look up to those who are a little older than we are. As a sixth grader, we usually know who the eighth grade leaders are, whether they are performing on stage, doing a service project, or on a team sport where we’re a sub. The same holds true for Senior School – ninth and tenth graders often know who many of the seniors are, even though those seniors may not have a clue who the younger students are.”

She continued, “That’s my personal story of Dr. Robertson Parkman, SA Class of 1953, known then as “Robby” and still known as “Robby” but with a 16-page list of awards and published research now added to his name. I was two years behind him here at Sewickley Academy and I remember him well. He had no idea who I was – I was just one of the many underclass kids who were of no particular note either good or bad. I remember best his red hair, and his friendly personality, and I knew that he was very smart.”

Following Dr. Sour’s presentation, Head of School Mr. Kolia O’Connor introduced the inductee. “Today we have the honor and privilege of inducting a remarkable alumnus into our Science & Technology Hall of Fame. This is something that we do only occasionally when the professional accomplishments and standing of an alumnus or alumna merit such recognition,” he said.

“We talk at Sewickley Academy about character, educational vigor, and service for the greater good. Long before we articulated that as our Mission for this school, Robby Parkman was living those core values in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, and California,” Mr. O’Connor said prior to handing Dr. Parkman a commemorative framed photo plaque. “His contributions to medical science, his research, and its application to real lives have had enormous impact all over the world. It is therefore, with great pleasure, that I formally induct Dr. Robby Parkman into Sewickley Academy’s Science & Technology Hall of Fame.”

Dr. Parkman took to the podium and reflected on his classmates’ career trajectory and achievements that led him to this moment in life. “My career has been colored by both serendipity and decisions that in retrospect seemed like good decisions to make then,” he said. He gave an overview of his work in regards to bone marrow and stem cell transplants. At the end of his presentation, students had the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session.

Dr. Parkman earned his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his medical degree from Yale University. He is a professor of pediatrics and microbiology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, an adjunct professor in pediatrics – stem cell transplantation at Stanford University, and a former associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Parkman was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pediatric and Marrow Transplant Consortium in 2010 and from the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation in 2007. In 1996, he received the H. Russell Smith Award from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, given to a scientist who has made the most significant contribution to pediatric research. For almost 50 years, he has dedicated his career to clinical, teaching, and research missions of pediatric bone marrow transplantation and immunology. His pioneering work included a new approach to treat genetic diseases in newborns utilizing their own umbilical cord blood cells. His team’s collaborative work at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston with Peter Bent Brigham Hospital led to the first bone marrow transplantation unit in New England. For 12 years, he performed military service as a surgeon for the U.S. Public Health Service. He served as head of the Division of Research Immunology/Bone Marrow Transplantation at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 1983-2002.

Sewickley Academy’s Science & Technology Hall of Fame inducts alumni who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, medicine, engineering, or technology, as determined by awards, grants, original research, or practical innovation, as acknowledged by experts in their field and represent the enduring principles of Sewickley Academy. Nominees must have performed significant service to others in the classroom or in the field, work that has greatly enhanced the learning experience for their students or the quality of life for the community benefiting from their efforts.


Past honorees of Sewickley Academy’s Science & Technology Hall of Fame include Mark E. Schafer ’75, Ph.D.Carolee T. Bull ’81, Ph.D., and Beth Willman ’94, Ph.D.

Watch Dr. Parkman’s induction into the Science and Technology Hall of Fame.

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