Established in 1982, the Distinguished Graduate Award honors highly accomplished alumni for their outstanding service to society and to the profession of medicine, and for their notable accomplishments in either biomedical research, clinical practice or medical education. The awardee's achievements must have resulted in national or international recognition previously. Honorees are selected by a panel of physicians from Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, previous honorees and others. The award is presented annually during Medical Alumni Weekend and represents the highest honor bestowed upon graduates of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
2013 - Richard H. Goodman, M'76, GR'76
Richard H. Goodman, M'76, GR'76, is internationally known for his pioneering research on gene regulatory mechanisms. At Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), he is the Director and Senior Scientist of the Vollum Institute and holds professorships in the Departments of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Cell and Developmental Biology.
Over the past 23 years, Dr. Goodman has led the Vollum Institute to international recognition as a leading center for neurobiological research. Many Vollum faculty have been recognized for their contributions to cellular and molecular neurobiology by election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The major focus of Dr. Goodman's research is on determining how extracellular and intracellular signals are integrated to control the onset and level of gene expression. He is credited with discovering the cAMP-regulated enhancer, a critical control element in many genes expressed in the nervous system and other tissues. Dr. Goodman is also known for discovering the CREB Binding Protein (CBP), the first example in multicellular organisms of a transcriptional co-activator.
Dr. Goodman performed one of the first genome-wide screens of transcription factor binding sites in mammalian cells and provided some of the first evidence for microRNA function in mammalian brain development. A touchstone of his scientific leadership is his conviction that continued emphasis on developing a deeper understanding of basic mechanisms is essential for the discovery of new therapeutic approaches to neuropsychiatric disease, such as depression, autism, and intellectual disability disorders.
Dr. Goodman began his studies with a B.S. in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970. He went on to receive both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Perelman School of Medicine in 1976. He continued his medical and research training at Tufts-New England Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital where he specialized in molecular endocrinology. At Tufts, he directed the Molecular Medicine Division, one of the first such programs in the nation. Four of the six faculty members in this program went on to be elected into the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Goodman has received numerous accolades over his prestigious career and has been recognized for his groundbreaking work by election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and the Institute of Medicine in 2005.
2013 - Jeannie T. Lee, M'93, GR'93
Dr. Jeannie Lee has been widely recognized for her groundbreaking insights in the emerging field of epigenetics, which seeks to understand inherited changes in gene expression that do not result from changes in the primary genetic code. According to the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Lee's study of the molecular-level biology of X-chromosome inactivation has yielded "contributions to our understanding of epigenetic regulation on a global scale."
Dr. Lee's overarching goal is to apply scientific principles to better understand epigenetic regulation by long noncoding RNAs and to understand some of the fundamental differences between women and men and how genes are controlled in the body. To these ends, she uses X-chromosome inactivation as a model system.
Currently, Dr. Lee is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, with a joint appointment as professor of pathology and molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
She became interested in X-chromosome inactivation as an undergraduate. "I was introduced to noncoding RNA and jumping genes and the incredibly plastic genome," she says. She explains that a physical process during embryonic development turns off the gene activity in one of the X chromosomes. Understanding this phenomenon may help reveal how all the cells in the body become differentiated while sharing the same genetic code.
Dr. Lee earned her B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard. She then attended the Perelman School of Medicine, receiving her M.D. and Ph.D. in genetics in 1993.
Boston beckoned as she returned to serve as a pathology resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and as chief resident in clinical pathology in 1994. From 1995 to 1997, she was research fellow at the Whitehead Institute of MIT. She then rose from assistant professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School in 1998 to associate professor in 2001 to full professor in 2004.
Dr. Lee has received numerous awards and accolades. She has been identified as one of America's 20 most promising researchers by the Pew Foundation, and received the annual Pew Scholar Award in Biomedical Science from 1999 to 2003.
In 2003, Dr. Lee was invited to Stockholm, Sweden by the Nobel Committee of Chemistry to discuss "The New Roles of RNA." Also that year, she was selected by the National Academy of Sciences as one of 25 multidisciplinary scientists under the age of 45 to participate at the "Frontiers in Science" conference in Irvine, CA. In 2004, she was invited back to Stockholm by the Nobel Symposium to discuss "Epigenetic Reprogramming."
Dr. Lee received the 2010 Molecular Biology Award from the National Academy of Sciences for advancing our understanding of the emerging field of epigenetic regulation by long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), which is considered by some to be the next frontier in molecular biology. In 2011, she co-founded a company, RaNA Therapeutics, to translate our emerging understanding of lncRNA mechanisms to clinical therapy.