Engaging Alumni in the Drive Toward 250

Dean Jameson opened the fall meeting of the Medical Alumni Advisory Council (MAAC) by reflecting on the immediate and enduring impact of the medical school on regional, national, and global medicine. 

Examples abound, providing multiple points of pride that encourage alumni involvement.  The dean started at the beginning with founding professor and physician-in-chief of the Continental Army, John Morgan, MD, C’1757.  

Dr. Howard Eisen (left) as John Morgan, with His Excellency General George Washington.

Dr. Howard Eisen (left) as John Morgan, with His Excellency General George Washington.

“Dr. Morgan connects our School to the founding of the country,” said MAAC member Howard Eisen, M’81, shown here as John Morgan in last December’s reenactment of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River.  “It’s truly remarkable that our School has been involved in such critical moments.”

Dean Jameson highlighted the School’s Nobel and Lasker Award winners, and the ongoing impact of today’s faculty members, such as Carl June, MD, Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, Garret FitzGerald, MD, Katherine High, MD, Jeffrey Drebin, MD, PhD, and Daniel Rader, MD.  The dean also noted Penn Medicine’s increasing role in providing leading-edge health care for the region, calling attention to the multidisciplinary facilities in Valley Forge and Radnor, the recent opening of Penn Medicine University City, and the new space above the Jordan Medical Education Center that will house the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics (CACT).

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As the January 2015 opening of the Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center approaches, Senior Vice Dean for Education Gail Morrison, M’71, FEL’76, thanked alumni for making it happen and recognized recent alumni contributions:

  • Joseph Zebrowitz, C’88, WG’06, and Lauren Wylonis, RES’98, for naming the Center for Student Activities 
  • Louis Matis, M’75, for naming a seminar room
  • Barry Gertz, C’73, GR’79, M’79, INT’82, for naming a quiet study lounge.  

The City View Patio, East Pavilion Event Space and Dais, and mezzanine conference rooms are among the naming opportunities still available in the Jordan Medical Education Center.

One of Penn’s most successful global projects, the Botswana-UPenn Partnership, celebrates its 10th anniversary in October.  Harvey Friedman, MD, FEL’75, HOM’81, provided an overview of the program, which has helped to establish over 32 antiretroviral treatment sites where none existed as recently as 2008.  This program also annually attracts a significant number of Perelman students committed to global health. Country Director Doreen Ramogola-Masire added to the presentation by highlighting the benefits of mobile health and telemedicine in the success of the partnership in which the Ministry of Health has also played a key role.

Looking ahead, Robert Smith, M’16, and Kay Negishi, M’15, student representatives of the Perelman School of Medicine Houses, and master clinician E. Cabrina Campbell, RES’93, representing the Wood House, described the Perelman School’s recently enacted house system.  These virtual associations encourage social interaction and mentorship between classes, and organize all current medical students into four houses named after four Perelman School luminaries: John Morgan; Helen O. Dickens, GM’45, HON’82; Jonathan E. Rhoads, GRM’40, HON’60; and Francis C. Wood, M’26, INT’30, HON’71.

MAAC Chair Lou Kozloff, C’65, M’69, closed the proceedings with the call to further engage alumni at what couldn’t be a better time – celebrating 250 years and a sparkling future.


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Fall 2014 Brings New Ways to Mark Distant and Quite Recent Past

As the mild summer began to wane, the Perelman School kicked off its 250th year with a 500-cupcake salute, announced a November celebration in DC and summer tour of Scotland, and picked the winner of the new Student Summer Photo Contest.

Birthday Party Makes the News

Local TV reporters were on hand to capture highlights from the September 8 cake-cutting celebration that kicked off the Perelman School of Medicine’s 250th year. Ray Perelman, the School’s largest benefactor, who, along with his late wife Ruth, pledged $225 million to the medical school in 2011, joined hundreds of faculty, staff, and students, for slices of three Penn-themed cakes and 500 cupcakes. Reports by NBC10 and 6ABC put the spotlight on America’s first medical school, and the festivities hosted by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, Dean J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, and Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the Penn Medicine Health System.

250th Road Show: Penn Medicine in DC

The 16th Administrator of USAID, alumnus Rajiv Shah, M’02, GRW’05, will be the featured local speaker at the Nov. 20 reception celebrating the 250th. Shortly after being sworn in on New Year’s Eve 2009, Dr. Shah led USAID’s response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Regional alumni leaders Lou Kozloff, C’65, M’69, and Martin Kanovsky, M’78, INT’79, RES’81, FEL’83, invite you to join them along with Dean J. Larry Jameson and Senior Vice Dean for Education Gail Morrison for the Thursday event, to be held in the Ronald Reagan Building of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

“We have many alumni in the DC and Baltimore area – the NIH is there, too – and this is an ideal opportunity to let them know about cutting-edge changes to the curriculum and physical changes to the campus,” said Dr. Kanovsky. Added Dr. Kozloff, “I’m most proud not that we’re the oldest school but that we’re doing some of the newest, most innovative work, and we hope to get fellow alumni engaged and excited about our impressive progress along with the celebrations scheduled in May.”

For more information, email pmevents@ben.dev.upenn.edu or call 215-898-8412

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Tour Scotland this Summer! Special Trip Created for Our 250th 

Penn Alumni Travel has arranged a July 2-10, 2015, trip to Scotland. Among other activities, the tour will explore the Perelman School’s historic roots with University Archivist Mark Frazier Lloyd. For details, please visit the Penn Alumni Travel Page.

Celebrating the More Recent Past

What did you do during the summer break? Our students’ answers show that they continue to make the Perelman School a dynamic and influential place. Please go to our Facebook page to see the first Student Summer Photo Contest and enjoy some amazing vistas, near and far. Contest winner Prioty Islam, M'15, said, “I had high expectations for one of the seven natural wonders, and our excursion to Victoria Falls was my most anticipated trip while in Africa. Long after I could see the Falls, my ears were filled with its deafening roar. This is Victoria Fall’s native namesake – ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya,’ the Smoke that Thunders.”


Turning 250: Q&A with Jonathan Epstein, MD

“Penn is special, and unusual, in that we are among the best at what we do, and we’re also friendly and encouraging. Often in academic medicine, these are mutually exclusive, but at Penn, they go together.”

Jonathan A. Epstein, MD, William Wikoff Smith Professor of Cardiovascular Research and chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, offers his thoughts on the Perelman School’s significant birthday. 

Q: You have been with Penn Medicine since 1996. What makes you most proud about your career here?

A: I’m most proud to be part of a faculty with such rapidly growing impact on the international stage. During my time at Penn, the trajectory has been unbelievable, and it’s so exciting to see new knowledge transformed into new cures.

In my own lab, discoveries we’ve made in basic science and in model organisms through the last 10 years are finding their way to the clinic. It’s very exciting to be setting up clinical trials to test some of our theories about heart failure. Specifically, we’ve proposed some chemicals and drugs that might be beneficial for patients who have had heart attacks, and we are now in a position to test them in patients.

Q: What stands out among your experiences at Penn?

A: The people. For whatever reason when I set about my career, I didn’t expect that my colleagues would also be among my best friends. But it didn’t take me long to see that the faculty here is welcoming, interactive, and scientifically challenging. I enjoy working with so many of my colleagues – it makes coming to work fun.

One example out of many: Mike Parmacek, MD, former Chief of Cardiology and current Chair of the Department of Medicine, for instance, has been a terrific friend and longtime collaborator. We share scientific interests about how the heart and vasculature develop and function. As important, though, is what Mike has taught me about leadership. His straightforward, honest approach with people has been a source of inspiration, and he’s been a great friend.

Q: Who are some of your key collaborators?

A: Within the Penn Cardiovascular Institute, I’ve worked closely with Dan Rader, MD, one of the most productive and well-respected cardiologists and researchers in the nation. He has a particular interest in lipids, and our work has been very complementary. I’ve also worked very closely with Ed Morrisey, PhD. He is the Scientific Director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine and one of the leading experts in both heart and lung formation. Ed has been a leader at Penn with regard to new research technologies and approaches, and we have had a number of productive collaborations and large multi-investigator research grants together.

I’ve also worked with Ken Zaret, PhD, and Shelley Berger, PhD, and I am proud to say I helped to recruit them to Penn. They have built an extremely influential program in epigenetics, a cutting-edge area of research that is impacting every realm of medical therapy.

Q: What would make a good birthday present for the Perelman School?

A: An endowment that allows our students to pursue their dreams without worrying about financial support. 

And for those who are here when it’s time to celebrate the 300th anniversary, my wish is that things are as good for them as they are for us right now. I hope that they will have continued the traditions of collaboration and collegiality that make science and health care fun for the people who work here and that make us among the very best in the world.


Faculty Weigh-in on Ebola Crisis

Perelman School professors lend their expertise to public discussion of the ongoing epidemic in West Africa.

Read on for UPHS Communications summaries or recent media appearances.

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Fighting the Ebola Epidemic

Harvey Rubin, MD, professor of Medicine in the division of Infectious Diseases, joined WHYY’s "Radio Times" to discuss the efforts underway to fight the Ebola outbreak. Guest host Mary Cummings-Jordan talked with Rubin and writer Jeffrey Stern, who went to Guinea to trace the origins of the outbreak, which he chronicles in an article in this month’s Vanity Fair.

WHYY "Radio Times" segment

Editorials in JAMA Cover Obligation to Help and Ethical Research Considerations

Amid recent discussion about the Ebola crisis in West Africa, Penn Medicine physicians say that high-income countries like the United States have an obligation to help those affected by the outbreak and to advance research to fight the deadly disease — including in the context of randomized clinical trials of new drugs to combat the virus. The two new editorials, which appeared “online first” in JAMA on September 11th, are written by faculty members in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London.

Evaluating Novel Therapies During the Ebola Epidemic

Why Should High-Income Countries Help Combat Ebola?

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Penn Faculty Quell Ebola Fears

While some Penn students and researchers tackle challenges of the deadly Ebola virus, at the same time, it’s also possible that some fears over the spread of the disease are unfounded, explains Darren Linkin, MD, MSCE, assistant professor of Medicine, in the Daily Pennsylvanian. “What if there were a patient who said, ‘I have fever, headache, non-specific symptoms and I was just in Nigeria for business?’” said Linkin. These symptoms could instead be due to malaria or the flu, Linkin added. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, chair of the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, added that the fear of Ebola spreading throughout West Africa is a larger concern than fearing it will spread to the United States.

Daily Pennsylvanian article

What Cured Ebola Patients Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol?

The two American Ebola patients, medical missionaries Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, have walked out of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta infection-free. They were the first human beings to receive an experimental drug called ZMapp. But they are not the first people to have recovered from Ebola, and good hospital care is likely more responsible for their recovery than any mysterious “serum," reports NBC News. Despite support for experimental drugs and vaccines to fight Ebola outbreaks, some suggest other medical support is far more important. “Now that the global response to the Ebola outbreak is picking up, the international community needs more focus on strengthening of health systems and infrastructure and less on experimental treatments,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, chair of the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

NBC News article

Penn Medicine News blog

Ebola Prompts Extraordinary Precautions in Hospitals