Print This Issue

December 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 14


Dr. Fishbein, Annenberg School

Fishbein, Marty

Dr. Martin “Marty” Fishbein, the Harry C. Coles, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Communication, and director of the Health Communication Program in the Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication, passed away November 27, while traveling in London; he was 73.

Dr. Fishbein had been a member of the faculty at the Annenberg School since 1997. Prior to coming to Penn, he served on the faculty at the University of Illinois beginning in 1961.

Dr. Fishbein authored or edited seven books and contributed over 250 articles and chapters to professional books and journals. He was the author of the Theory of Reasoned Action and the Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction and Change. His theory is the most cited AIDS behavioral theory in scientific literature, and is widely used in the fields of communication, public health, advertising, and psychology.

In addition to his academic accomplishments, he had served on the NIMH Mental Health AIDS Research Review Committee, the NIMH AIDS Policy Subcommittee of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, and had been a special consultant on behavior and behavior change for the NIMH AIDS research program. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Fishbein was a guest researcher in the Behavioral Prevention Research Branch in the Division of HIV/STD Prevention and served as acting chief of the Behavioral Interventions and Research Branch of the Division of STD Prevention, in the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention.

Dr. Fishbein was inducted into the American Marketing Association’s Attitude Research Hall of Fame and received numerous awards, including the National Association of Recording Merchandisers Special Recognition Award, the Interamerican Psychology Society’s Prize, the CDC’s Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Scientific Excellence, and in 2003, he received the American Public Health Association’s Mayhew Derryberry Award for outstanding contributions to health education, health promotion and health communication research and theory.

He had also been president of both the Society for Consumer Psychology (Division 23 of the American Psychology Association) and the Interamerican Psychological Society.

Dr. Fishbein earned his undergraduate degree from Reed College in 1957 and his doctoral degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961.

Dr. Fishbein is survived by his wife, Debby.

Details for a memorial service were not available at press time.


Mr. Ryles, Penn Sophomore

Alex Ryles, a sophomore in the College, passed away November 22; he was 19.

A graduate of Menlo School in Atherton, California, Mr. Ryles was majoring in urban studies.

Mr. Ryles is survived by his parents, Scott and Marcia; sister, Emily; and brother, Teddy Ryles.

A campus memorial service is being planned but the details were not finalized at press time.


Dr. Schaffer, Microbiology


Dr. Priscilla Schaffer, former professor and chair of the department of microbiology in the School of Medicine, passed away November 18 at age 67.

Dr. Schaffer received her BS degree from Hobart and William Smith College in 1964 where she majored in both biology and chemistry. She earned her PhD from Cornell University in 1969, and completed postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine.

After holding professorships at Baylor Medical College and Harvard, Dr. Schaffer was appointed to Penn’s faculty in 1996. She returned to Harvard in 2001, serving as professor of medicine and chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Virology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center until 2007, when she moved to Arizona and continued her research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She remained there as a research professor in the department of molecular and cellular biology in its College of Science until her passing.

A recognized leader in herpesvirus research, Dr. Schaffer’s research focused primarily on herpes simplex virus, its ability to establish lifelong latent infections and its relation to neurological diseases. According to the University of Arizona, “Her lab was the first to generate mutants of HSV, to establish the genetic and physical maps for HSV, and to identify the viral DNA replication and regulatory proteins.”

She had received many honors and awards for her research including a Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health and the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, given “to a woman whose life exemplifies outstanding service to humanity” (other awardees include Sandra Day O’Conner and Madeline Albright).

She authored or co-authored more than 160 works, and held dozens of national memberships and consultantships. She served on Cornell University’s Board of Trustees from 1986-1994.

Dr. Schaffer was recently honored by her trainees and colleagues through the establishment of a Priscilla Schaffer Lectureship to be given each year at the International Herpesvirus Workshop as well as two annual Priscilla Schaffer Travel Awards for Students and Postdoctoral Fellows to attend the workshop.  

Dr. Schaffer is survived by her mother, Marie; sisters, Judy Burt and Phyllis Kraft; and brothers, Stephen and Albert.

Donations may be made to “The Priscilla Schaffer Lecture Fund” through The Beth Israel Deaconess Department of Medicine Foundation, c/o Dr. Don Coen, Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, 250 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115.


Dr. Weller, CHOP & Medicine


Dr. Elizabeth B. Weller, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics in the School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia  (CHOP), passed away on November 29. She was 60 years old.

Appointed to the faculty in 1997, Dr. Weller had also served as the first chair of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at CHOP. She was revered for her scholarship in the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorders. 

Among her many awards and honors, she received the Best Teacher Award from the 2007 graduating class of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellows at CHOP. In her honor, the fellows established a lectureship in her name to be given to the best teacher in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Her other honors included the Distinguished Service Award from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation Award for Research in Depression or Suicide.

Dr. Weller was involved in numerous professional organizations including the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

She earned both her undergraduate and medical degrees from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, in 1971 and 1975, respectively.

Dr. Weller is survived by her husband, Dr. Ronald Weller; children, Andrew Weller and Christine Weller; her brother, Varoujan Boghossian; and a niece and nephew.

Memorial donations may be made to: The AGBU Armenia Orphan Fund, 55 E. 59th St., New York, NY 10022-1112.

To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.


Almanac - December 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 14