Dear Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends,
The Perelman School's accomplishments in the past few months have been many: We earned
a Top Five ranking from U.S. News & World Report for the 15th straight year; Discover magazine listed our research among the most revolutionary in the world; three faculty
members won one of the highest honors in medicine; and the Penn Diabetes Research Center
received the highest possible score from the NIH with a designation of being one of the finest
centers of its kind.
Year after year, Penn remains a focal point for medicine in part because we continually innovate in every area of
our mission. Our faculty and leadership are trailblazers, meshing new ways to teach, create knowledge, and care for
patients to better meet the challenges of medicine. A decade ago, we led the nation with a new curriculum; today,
we lead in translational medicine; and tomorrow our emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration will produce
discoveries unimaginable now.
The developments I share with you today underscore the impact we are making in the field of medicine.
March Match Madness
One of our most important contributions is the new doctors
we train and add to the profession every year. This year, 139
fourth-year students anxiously gathered in Dunlop Auditorium
in Stemmler Hall at noon on March 16 - Match Day - to
learn where they will spend their residencies. The placements
reflect the respect Penn engenders throughout the medical
community. The vast majority of students chose to remain in
academic medicine, with 34 percent placing at Penn-affiliated
programs at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania,
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia or Scheie Eye Institute.
Another 16 percent will head for Boston and one of
Harvard's five hospitals. Many of the remaining students will
train at the country's other leading academic medical centers,
including the University of California at San Francisco,
Columbia, New York University and Johns Hopkins
The trends in specialties of the last few years held, with 37
percent of the students choosing primary care and 21 percent
choosing surgery. Six percent or less chose anesthesiology,
emergency medicine, psychiatry, or radiation oncology.
The hairstyles and clothes might be different today, but the
excitement and anxiety of opening that residency match
envelope has remained the same through the decades. Please
visit our 2012 Match Day Page for a video
and other coverage that will bring back vivid memories of
that nerve-racking and elating experience for all Perelman
School of Medicine graduates.
Penn Medicine earned an unusual distinction with two
breakthroughs ranked by Discover magazine as among
the top 10 in all scientific fields worldwide last year. The
No. 2 discovery involved altering immune cells with lab engineered
proteins, making the cells impervious to the
AIDS virus. Penn Medicine researchers saw HIV levels drop
in all six patients treated with the altered cells and virtually
disappear in one before antiretroviral treatments resumed.
Carl H. June, M.D., and colleague David L. Porter, M.D.,
earned the No. 10 spot by driving leukemia into remission
for two of three patients treated with immune cells
genetically modified to attack cancer. The discovery opened
the door for new therapies for the thousands with leukemia
and possibly for the millions suffering from other cancers.
In the past few months, Penn Medicine researchers have
made enormous strides in several other important areas:
- Brian J. Czerniecki, M.D., Ph.D., and his team discovered
that a vaccination made partially from a patient's own
cells eradicates early breast cancer tumors and may guard
against more invasive cancers in the future.
- George Coukos, M.D., Ph.D., discovered he could develop
an ovarian cancer vaccine from a patient's own tumor
in far less time and for far less money than previously
thought. This discovery has wide ramifications for
developing potent vaccines against many types of cancer.
- In March, George Cotsarelis, M.D., and his team
announced findings that hold promise for 80 percent of
men worldwide: A lipid called Prostaglandin D2 prevents
hair growth in male pattern baldness. The discovery
could lead to topical treatments.
The discoveries by Drs. June and Czerniecki coincided
with recognition from donors that will provide additional
resources for their groundbreaking work. A $3 million
gift from Richard W. Vague to create the Richard W. Vague
Endowed Professorship in Immunotherapy will support
Dr. June's research. Mr. Vague also contributed
$2 million to create the Richard W. Vague Pancreatic
Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fund at the Abramson
Cancer Center. A gift from Dolores Harrington and the
Mark H. and Blanche M. Harrington Foundation created
the Rhoads-Harrington Associate Professorship in Surgery
to support the work of Dr. Czerniecki.
It is no coincidence that significant breakthroughs by our
researchers and recognition of Penn's preeminence come
at a time of record-breaking support. We reached our
goal - $1 billion - in 2011, more than a year before the
end of the Campaign. With the same foresight that drives
our mission, we are building on our momentum instead of
basking in our achievements because we have the ability
and desire to do more.
Our priorities are clear: professorships, scholarships,
and patient-based programs, which are always central to
our mission. At this time, support for the Translational
Research Center and the new Medical Education Center is
critical for our future.
The generosity of donors often gives the Perelman School
of Medicine the margin needed to take a leadership
position in crucial areas. A $16 million anonymous gift — one of the largest from individuals for research in the
country last year — will play this role in our understanding
and treatment of addiction, depressive disorders, and
neurodegenerative diseases. The gift established the
Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative with the goal of
attracting the world's most innovative physicians, scientists,
educators, and policymakers to Penn Medicine. The
impact will be enormous: These complex and debilitating
conditions affect millions of patients and their families each
year while costing society billions of dollars. Brian Strom,
M.D., M.P.H., Executive Vice Dean for Institutional Affairs
and the George S. Pepper Professor of Public Health and
Preventive Medicine, leads the initiative.
Extraordinary research comes only from extraordinary faculty
members. Three Perelman School of Medicine professors earned one
of the nation's highest honors in biomedicine with the election to
the Institute of Medicine last year. The new members bring Penn's
total to 75 out of an active membership of 1,688. The three new
members are Vivian G. Cheung, M.D., Professor of Genetics and
Pediatrics; Paul A. Offit, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of
the Division of Infectious Diseases; and Daniel J. Rader, M.D., the
Cooper-McClure Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of
Translational Medicine and Human Genetics.
One of the highest honors bestowed on researchers in all fields comes
with election to the National Academy of Sciences. Gideon Dreyfuss,
Ph.D., Isaac Norris Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and
Beatrice H. Hahn, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Microbiology,
joined 82 other Americans and 21 foreign associates in earning the
honor this year. The organization's British counterpart, the Fellowship
of the Royal Society, elected Garret A. FitzGerald, M.D., as one of
only eight members chosen from outside Britain this year.
My predecessor, Arthur H. Rubenstein, MBBCh, Professor of
Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism,
recently earned a prestigious award for his contribution to science. The
Association of American Physicians bestowed its highest honor, the
George M. Kober Medal, on Dr. Rubenstein for his groundbreaking
Alan J. Wein, M.D., Ph.D. (Hon.), Chief of Urology, also has cause for
celebration. Dr. Wein received the Keyes Medal from the American
Association of Genitourinary Surgeons for his contributions to the
understanding of bladder physiology. The organization's president
called Dr. Wein's work "game changing."
Gary A. Koretzky, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chair for Research, and
Thomas Curran, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology and Laboratory
Medicine, won election to the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences. Linton A. Whitaker, M.D., Director of Penn Medicine's
Center for Human Appearance, was honored by the American
Society of Craniofacial Surgery for his years of service to plastic
surgery with the establishment of an annual lecture in his name.
Recognition also has come for two of our young faculty members,
who won $50,000 grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for
achievements that identify them as leaders of the next generation
- Christopher Fang-Yen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of
Bioengineering and Neuroscience at the Perelman School of
Medicine and Assistant Professor of Bioengineering in the
School of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Fang-Yen uses
optical and genetic tools to study how neural circuitry generates
- Benjamin F. Voight, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Pharmacology.
Dr. Voight constructs and applies statistical methods to genomics
data collected across thousands of human genomes to uncover
how genetic variations contribute to disease.
Our alumni also deserve recognition for their achievements, and every
spring we honor those who have made lasting contributions to medicine
and to Penn. I am pleased to announce that Walter J. Gamble, M'57,
and his wife, Anne, received the Lifetime Achievement Award this
year. The award recognizes their exceptional commitment, loyalty,
and dedication to the School and to the cause of making a Penn
medical education available to talented students. In 1992, the Gambles
established the 21st Century Endowed Scholarship Fund with the
hope of eventually making tuition free for all Penn medical students.
The Gambles have given tremendously over the past twenty years to
help make this happen.
For 30 years we have recognized alumni for outstanding service to
the medical profession and society with the Distinguished Graduate
Award, the highest honor the Perelman School of Medicine bestows
on graduates. David Asch, M.D., GM'87, WG'89, HOM'96, and
William S. Pierce, M'62, RES'69, received the award this year.
Dr. Asch, Executive Director of Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of
Health Economics, applies methods derived from epidemiology and
economics to social and ethical problems in health care. His work
has informed U.S. Supreme Court deliberations and prompted the
Veterans Administration to create a program to eliminate health
disparities. Dr. Pierce, the Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Surgery
at the Penn State College of Medicine, conducted pioneering work
in developing mechanical circulatory support and an artificial heart
that has saved thousands of lives.
It is also my pleasure to recognize this year's Alumni Service Award
winners. David Apple, M'62 is an expert in spinal cord injury and
is Medical Director Emeritus for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
For many years, he has been a leader among his classmates and
has worked tirelessly to foster support for the Perelman School of
Medicine. He chaired his class's 50th reunion committee and also
serves as class agent. Charles Wagner, M'67, INT'68, FEL'74 is currently Medical Adviser for Patient Safety and Quality
Initiatives at Holy Redeemer Health System in Pennsylvania.
He has demonstrated outstanding dedication to his alma mater
through his many years of service on the Medical Alumni
Advisory Council. This year Dr. Wagner is Co-Chair of the
25th reunion committee.
Welcoming New Leaders
With great pleasure, we recently welcomed two new leaders.
Timothy R. Dillingham, M.D., M.S., joined Penn Medicine as
Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Dillingham, who won the Distinguished Researcher Award from
the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic
Medicine in 2010, was the chair of the rehabilitation department
of the Medical College of Wisconsin and, previously, Director of
Outpatient Services for the Department of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation at The Johns Hopkins University.
Mark O. Winkelman, a member of the University's Board of Trustees
for a decade, became Chair of Penn Medicine's Board in November.
Mr. Winkelman, a senior director of Goldman, Sachs & Co., serves
on the University's Executive Committee and chairs the Budget and
Finance Committee. He received his MBA from Wharton in 1973
and is a member of the Wharton Board of Overseers.
New Clinical Center in Center City
With the Perelman Center winning praise from patients and
physicians alike, we turned our attention to the other side of
the river last fall and broke ground for a new building near
Pennsylvania Hospital. The 153,000-square-foot, $22 million
Penn Medicine Washington Square center represents a dynamic
new chapter in the history of the nation's first hospital. The
center will consolidate clinical and departmental offices now
scattered throughout the area while freeing space in the hospital
for additional inpatient rooms. The building will open in 2013.
I am thrilled that the first groundbreaking under my watch joined
history and innovation in a way that will make an enormous
impact on our Center City patients.
The enthusiasm that always runs through campus has been
heightened in the past few weeks as more than 130 faculty and
staff members have immersed themselves in developing a detailed
vision of Penn Medicine five years down the road. Six committees
examining complex issues ranging from clinical excellence in today's
environment to interdisciplinary collaboration will report their
recommendations to me in June.
I encourage you all to visit the Shaping the Future website
to participate in the conversation
on our strategic plan. Since September, I have met several hundred
graduates, and I always leave impressed by the quality of their
ideas and their excitement about the future. I look forward to
further lively exchanges as our plans progress.
J. Larry Jameson, M.D., Ph.D.
Executive Vice President of the University
of Pennsylvania for the Health System
Dean, Perelman School of Medicine