Joanne Bicknese - Baker Institute Advisory Council Member
Dr. Joanne Bicknese, BS ’75, DVM ’78 Supporting the Institute from All Angles
Dr. Joanne Bicknese, a longtime Advisory Council member, has taken an active role in supporting the Institute’s research and careers of its most promising trainees. She brings her expertise as a large animal veterinarian and more than three decades working for biomedical companies to the Council, which she chaired from 2000 to 2006.
Bicknese joined the Council in 1998 after meeting then-director Dr. Douglas Antczak. He opened her eyes to the incredible breadth of research occurring at the Institute – from immunology to genetics and parasites – and how it benefits not just pets, but horses, farm animals and people. In 2006, she received the Institute’s Founders’ Award.
But her service to Baker isn’t limited to the Council. In 2005, she established the Bicknese Family Prize to honor her parents, Helen and Louis Bicknese, and her aunt and uncle, Grace and Carl Bicknese, who supported her throughout her career. The award is a competitive bridge grant to help women researchers at the institute to take an extra step – pursue additional training, present at a conference, or purchase a piece of equipment – that will advance their careers.
“It’s been very satisfying for me to see where the winners of the Bicknese Prize have gone and to develop a personal connection with the recipients,” said Bicknese. “It’s rewarding to know you’ve had an impact on a young person’s life.”
Bicknese also makes small grants to support research projects at the Institute, and provides valuable tissue samples through her work with a large kennel of hounds. These hounds appear to be more resistant to cancer than many other breeds, so she arranges to send healthy and cancerous breast and spleen tissue to support Dr. Gerlinde Van de Walle’s comparative breast cancer research, and Dr. Scott Conrood’s work on hemangiosarcoma. “We’re hoping that these contributions will help define the genetic basis for these cancers and to find mutations that could perhaps be corrected in the future,” she said. Now that Bicknese is “retired,” she works part-time as a regulatory veterinarian at harness tracks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and has more time to devote to her goat farm. Currently, she is applying the knowledge she has gained through her long tenure with the Institute to improve the breeding of her Boer and Savanna goat herds.