For the Public Good: From Virus Research to Economic Development

Barbara Vinsel

In this March 1956 news article, Barbara demonstrates the use of an important technological advancement in virus research.

Being hospitalized with pneumonia as a child sparked Barbara Vinsel's fascination with viruses, each of which, she says, "have their own peculiarities." While earning an undergraduate degree in Pre-Med Biology at UofL, Barbara worked as lab technician in UofL's Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory, which opened in 1955 within the School of Medicine's Department of Microbiology. Seeking to purify the new vaccines being developed for virus diseases, this lab team was granted a one-year loan of an innovative, new machine known as the Cohn Blood Fractioner. As one of seven such machines in use at the time, it enabled researchers to "spin out concentrations of viruses from the plasma in blood."

In the decade after graduating from UofL—a time in which she also married George Tallman, an aeronautics engineer who later became a member of the scientific team to put humans on the moon—Barbara worked on a series of virus-related research projects at major hospitals in Louisville, Boston and New York City. "Since these projects had defined timeframes, this career gave me great flexibility," Barbara recalls.

In addition to her childhood illnesses shaping her interests, Barbara was also greatly inspired by her father, Dr. Kenneth Paul "K.P." Vinsel, whose legacy she and George have chosen to honor through a gift from their estate.

Barbara Vinsel

Barbara reviews a retrospective collection of her father’s papers, which are held within UofL Archives & Special Collections.

While chairing UofL's Department of History and Political Science from 1935 to 1943, Dr. Vinsel periodically served as Director of Public Welfare for the city of Louisville, including 1937, when he oversaw emergency housing and feeding during that year's disastrous flood. In the early years of World War II, Dr. Vinsel was also a consultant to the U.S. government's War Production Department, a position that later enabled him to help design and oversee the Louisville Area Development Association as the city transitioned to a peacetime economy. Ultimately, this Association became the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, which he headed until retiring in 1966.

Speaking of their estate gift, Barbara and George say, "It all happened rather quickly." Having sold some highly appreciated real estate that had been in George's family, they had 45 days to make a charitable decision, or to pay significant capital gains taxes. Collaborating with a skilled attorney and CPA, the Tallmans purchased three commercial, rent-producing properties, which will ultimately be given to three charitable entities, including the University of Louisville to establish scholarships.

To learn more about including the University of Louisville in your estate plan in a way that is meaningful for you, please contact the Office for Estate and Gift Planning at plannedgifts@louisville.edu or (502) 852-5051.