Announcing the Penny Talks

Announcing the Penny Talks

May 07

The  Ragon Institute is proud to launch the Penny Talks, a monthly seminar featuring Ragon/MGH faculty explaining, in layman’s terms, the vision behind their work.


Few who met and worked with Penny Campbell could have forgotten her!  Penny started at Ragon (then Partners AIDS Research Center) in 2001 as Grant Administrator to Drs. Walker and Scadden.  Over the years, she came to be know for her wit and warmth as well as her humorous rants.  “She had the best sense of humor”, remembers Dr. Todd Allen.  Often her laughter, or “cackle” as she called it, would be heard in the halls of the Charlestown Navy Yard offices. When Penny spoke everyone listened and she likened us to actors playing parts in her larger than life movie (a comedy of course). Penny also took great interest in the families and children of her co-workers. She would proudly display each photo given to her of the growing families at the Ragon Institute.



Penny Campbell

In 2009, Penny quietly accepted her cancer diagnosis and pushed on doing business as usual, rarely missing a day of work.  Although she tried to keep the diagnosis to herself, as co-workers learned of her illness she seemed pleased to know how much we all cared about her. Her passing was surprising to some, devastating to all and we still feel the void of her presence today.


What made Penny a great grant administrator was that she would sit her faculty down and say “Now tell me what you’re doing!”  She was insistent that they fully explain the vision behind the numbers in their budgets.  When Dr. Krista Dong would visit Boston and share news of her work in South Africa with Penny, all who listened were drawn into the enthusiastic discussion. These talks became a highlight of Dr. Dong’s visits, as she loved sharing her work with Penny.  Based on those talks it was with great joy that Dr. Dong recently presented to the Ragon administrative staff an update on her work and entitled it “the Penny Talk.”


Therefore, in honor of Penny’s memory, we are pleased to announce a monthly Penny Talk seminar. These talks by the faculty members will explain the vision behind their grant proposals and the reason they do what they do.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  The Administrative team will host a meet and greet with coffee, tea and cookies after each presentation.


The second presentation given by Dr. Brian Zanoni is entitled “Umndeni Care Program:  Evolution of a social development program in South Africa”, and will be presented on May 24 in the  Schwartz Auditorium at 2:00pm.  The talk will provide a brief overview of the HIV epidemic  in South Africa and detail the start, development, and future direction of the Umndeni Care  Program.


In the spirit of Penny Campbell, come to learn and stay to chat.