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Three New Biomedical Institutes

The establishment of three new biomedical institutes was recently announced. They are the Penn Cardiovascular Institute; the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism; and the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics.

The Institutes are aimed at integrating research, clinical, and educational missions in a new model of care that cuts across traditional academic disciplinary and departmental lines. They will each emphasize cooperation, partner-ship, and combination of efforts and will draw upon scientists and physicians—and in some cases, professors from such fields as psychology and sociology—from across the University. The institutes developed directly from the Strategic Plan for Penn Medicine, which highlights the need for cross-collaboration among departments and schools, enhanced teamwork, and the extension of professional relationships—all with the purpose of improving the public’s health.

All three Institutes will be housed in the Clinical Research Building, further encouraging the exchange of ideas, sharing of personnel and resources, and coordination of related functions, both within and across the three institutes.

“It is noteworthy that in an era of escalating specialization, these institutes will maximize the united efforts and resources of a diverse group of superb clinicians and scientists to forge strong, coordinated, and integrated approaches to disease-prevention, management, and eradication,” said Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, EVP of UPHS and Dean of the School of Medicine. “Penn Medicine already enjoys an exceptional measure of public trust and esteem. With the formation of these institutes, we are consciously fostering a new chapter in pioneering patient care, research, and education.”

Penn Cardiovascular Institute

Dr. Michael S. Parmacek, the Herbert C. Rorer Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, will direct the Penn Cardiovascular Institute.

The mission of this Institute is to promote patient-oriented cardiovascular research across schools, departments, and centers at Penn. Despite remarkable advances in cardiovascular science and medicine over the past 50 years, cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of patients in the United States. Approximately 60.8 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease. Heart failure is the most common diagnosis of hospitalized patients in the United States. In light of these statistics, the Institute will support multi-disciplinary initiatives in the areas of heart failure and transplantation/myocyte biology, atherosclerosis/acute coronary syndromes, cardiac electrophysiology/channel biology, congenital heart disease/cardiovascular development, diabetic/metabolic cardiovascular disease, and molecular diagnostics and imaging. It will also initiate a state-of-the-art Outpatient Cardiovascular Center in the new Center for Advanced Medicine in 2008.

Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism

The Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism will be headed by Dr. Mitchell A. Lazar, Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Genetics, and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

The aim of this Institute is to understand the genetic, biochemical, molecular, environmental, and behavioral origins of diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases and reduce their incidence and severity. The Institute will be inaugurated at a time of ever-increasing prevalence of diabetes and obesity. Approximately 18 million people in the United States (6.2 percent of the population) have diabetes. Most of the increase in diabetes is related to an increase in obesity, defined as being more than 30 percent above ideal body-weight. Nationally, 58 million people are obese. The Institute will provide technical and administrative support and resources for clinical research and care on behalf of patients with these afflictions—from epidemiological studies to behavioral manipulations to trials of promising new medications and therapies.

Translational Medicine and Therapeutics

Dr. Garret A. FitzGerald, Robinette Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Elmer Bobst Professor of Pharmacology, will administer the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics.

The mission of this Institute will be to increase the quantity and quality of translational research at Penn: the application of ideas, insights, and discoveries generated through basic scientific inquiry to the treatment or prevention of human disease. In support of this undertaking, the Institute will train current professionals and students, as well as recruit faculty with translational-research proficiency. Examples of work which will be pursued at the Institute include the integration of genomic, proteomic and lipidomic approaches to discover novel anti-inflammatory drugs; the development of innovative immunotherapeutics for cancer; original approaches to targeting drug delivery to specific sites of disease; gene therapeutics of hemophilia; cellular therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and the development of the new field of pharmacoepidemiology. The Institute will also prepare, certify, and expand the number of trial coordinators, such as nurses and other health professionals, who carry out important aspects of translational research under the aegis of physician-scientists.

In addition to helping take new insights and discoveries from the lab bench to the patients’ bedside, and ultimately to the community at-large, the outcomes and methodological approaches generated at the institutes will be integrated into the educational program of the School of Medicine.



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 18, January 25, 2005


January 25, 2005
Volume 51 Number 18


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