Gellert family endows food safety research chair

By John Carberry

Group shot for Gellert Family gift
From left, Thomas Gellert '94, MBA '99, J.D. '00; Andrew Gellert '89; Robert Gellert '63, MBA '65; George Gellert '60, MBA '62, J.D. '63; Dean Kathryn J. Boor; and Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D. '97, the Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety. Photo: Lindsay France/University Photography 

A $3 million gift from the George Gellert family—whose Gellert Global Group includes one of the largest collections of privately held food importing companies in North America—has created a new endowed professorship in the Department of Food Science. The position and its inaugural appointee, Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D. ’97, will focus on prevention and control of bacterial foodborne illnesses and zoonotic diseases passed from animals to humans, including persistent public health threats such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella.

“The association my family and I have had with Cornell has been a crucial element to our success in the food business,” said George G. Gellert ’60, MBA ’62, J.D. ’63. “It has helped us with relationships, ideas and solutions. As leaders in the food industry, it is important to contribute to a business environment focused on food safety. It is a privilege for us to see that Cornell continues its leadership role in this discipline.”

The Gellert family connections to Cornell and the food industry started with Gellert’s father, Imre Thomas Gellert ’27. The Gellert-Cornell legacy continues to expand, with 15 Cornellians and 25 Cornell degrees among the family members, including 14 CALS grads.

“George and the Gellert family have been part of CALS and Cornell for many years. Their efforts and expertise have contributed so much to the very fabric of our university,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “This generous gift further extends the Gellerts’ great legacy.”