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Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor: Sarah Tishkoff
January 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 18



President Amy Gutmann and Provost Ronald Daniels announced the appointment of Dr. Sarah Tishkoff as the sixth Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor, effective January 1, 2008.

Dr. Tishkoff, a leading global expert in human genetics, will be the David and Lyn Silfen University Associate Professor, named in recognition of a Silfen family gift. Her appointment will be jointly shared between the department of genetics in the School of Medicine and the department of biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. 

“Sarah Tishkoff’s scholarship in human genetics and the nature of genetic diversity underscores the leaps of knowledge that we can make by path-breaking discoveries that integrate previously distinct fields of study,” said President Gutmann. “Her appointment will have a profound influence on teaching and research in genetics and anthropology at Penn. She also will strengthen Penn’s ever-increasing contributions to global knowledge and understanding.”

Dr. Tishkoff works primarily in Africa, where she has compiled the world’s most extensive DNA database, representing more than 7000 Africans from more than 100 ethnic groups. Her research examines how genetic variations and genetic diversity can affect a wide range of practical issues–for example, differences in human susceptibility to disease, metabolism of drugs, and evolutionary adaptation. 

“Sarah Tishkoff is one of the dominant international figures in human genetics research,” said Provost Daniels. “Her appointment puts Penn at the leading edge of this discipline, which is answering some of the deepest questions about human life and evolution.”

The Penn Integrates Knowledge program was launched by President Gutmann in 2005 as a University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines, and who are jointly appointed between two schools at Penn.

Dr. Tishkoff’s research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Keck Foundation, and the Leakey Foundation.  She has won a Packard Career Award, a Burroughs/Wellcome Fund Career Award, and was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” American scientists in 2003. 

Dr. Tishkoff has taught at the University of Maryland since 2000. She received her PhD (1996) and MPhil (1992) in genetics from Yale University and her BS (1989) in anthropology and genetics from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Penn State University from 1997 to 2000. 

David Silfen, C ’66, is a senior director of The Goldman Sachs Group, a member of the Executive Committee of Penn’s Board of Trustees, a member of Penn’s Investment Committee, and an Overseer of SAS.  In addition to two Penn Integrates Knowledge professorships, the Silfens have endowed an annual lecture series, provided support for the Pilot Curriculum in SAS, and created the Silfen Student Study Center in Perelman Quadrangle.

Almanac - January 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 18