Made possible by a gift from Ralph R. Sonnenschein and Patricia N. Sonnenschein

Ralph Sonnenschein came to the new UCLA School of Medicine in 1950 as an assistant professor of physiology and retired as a professor in 1988. He first became interested in scientific portrait medals when, working with the U.S. Office of Naval Research in London from 1971–72, he visited many European universities, where he was occasionally given a medal honoring a local scientist. When his wife, Pat, found an old medal of Joseph Priestly, who laid the foundation for the field of chemistry, at a London flea market, she suggested that Professor Sonnenschein might enjoy collecting medals. Professor Vladislav Kruta, a physiologist and medical historian who had a superb medal collection, kindly referred him to potential sources and introduced him to other collectors. Through these and other contacts, Professor Sonnenschein became increasingly knowledgeable about this fascinating art form. He built an impressive medal collection of people in the medical and related natural sciences, currently numbering more than 2,200 pieces plus associated literature. Collecting gave the couple much pleasure, including friendships with other collectors in both the U.S. and Europe. They were gratified that the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library gave the collection a permanent home, continuing its growth, and making it available for future study.

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Bookplate with a medal depicting Ralph Sonnenschein and text reading the name of the endowment

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