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Honors & Other Things
July 15, 2008, Volume 55, No. 1

Dr. Alavi: Honorary Degree


Dr. Abass Alavi, professor of radiology and neurology at the School of Medicine, received an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia at its 187th Commencement Ceremony on May 21.  Dr. Alavi was recognized as a pioneer in the field of molecular imaging. 


Dr. Artis: Infectious Disease Award


Dr. David Artis, assistant professor in the department of pathobiology, has received an Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  Dr. Artis was one of 14 selected from an applicant pool of 152.  The award includes $500,000 over 5 years. Dr. Artis’ research interests include regulation of immunity and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.


Dr. Aton: Women in Science


Dr. Sara Aton, postdoctoral fellow in the department of neuroscience at the School of Medicine, was awarded a grant from the L’Oreal USA Fellowship for Women in Science Program. The prestigious fellowship provides support to postdoctoral women scientists who are undertaking cutting-edge research with practical applications. Dr. Aton will use the grant to study a key biological component underlying learning and memory called synaptic plasticity. The long-term goal of her research is to clarify how sleep contributes to learning and memory. 


Dr. Delivoria-Papadopoulos: Honorary Degree


Dr. Maria Delivoria-Papadopoulos, professor emerita of pediatrics and physiology, received an honorary degree from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Medicine in April. A recognized leader in the field of neonatal-perinatal medicine, Dr. Delivoria-Papadopoulos has helped drastically improve the lives of thousands of children through her medical practice and research. Her work includes studying the mechanisms of brain damage in infants and finding therapeutic interventions for extremely premature infants.


Dr. Li: ASA Fellow


Dr. Hongzhe Li, professor of biostatistics in the School of Medicine, has been named a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA). Fellows are recognized for their outstanding professional contributions to and leadership in the field of statistical science. 


Dr. Lu: HHMI Investigator
Dr. Zhe Lu, professor of physiology at the School of Medicine, was selected to be a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. One of 56 biomedical scientists chosen, Dr. Lu’s lab will develop therapeutic strategies to combat certain diseases that currently lack effective treatment and pursue the answers to fundamental biological questions.  HHMI honors and supports some of the nation’s most creative biomedical scientists by giving them the opportunity to tackle their most ambitious and risky research projects. 

Ms. Samuel and Ms. Shearin: HHMI-NIH Research Scholars
Penn Veterinary students Michelle Samuel, V ’09 and Abigail Shearin, V ’10, were among 110 students from across the country selected to participate in the HHMI-NIH Research Scholars Program. The program allows them to conduct biomedical research full-time for one year as part of a $4 million initiative by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They will visit several labs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) before choosing the research project they will pursue with an NIH mentor. 

Dr. Gregorian: CASE Award


Dr. Vartan Gregorian, former Penn provost, who was president of Brown University, and the New York Public Library before  becoming president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, has been honored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as a recipient of its Distinguished Service Award.  CASE president John Lippincott said; “The 2008 CASE Distinguished Service Award Winners stand as outstanding examples of the many ways individuals and organizations can support education.” The Vartan Gregorian Professorship in the Humanities chair was established at Penn in 2004 by the Annenberg Foundation (Almanac November 2, 2004).


Dr. Chen-Plotkin: Career Award


Dr. Alice Chen-Plotkin, NRSA post-doctorate fellow at Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, has received a Career Award for Medical Scientists from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. She has also recently received the 2008 Clinician-Scientist Development Fellowship Award from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Foundation and the ALS Association.  Dr. Chen-Plotkin and her colleagues are honing in on a protein called TDP-43, which is seen in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia.  They hope to trace causes and develop effective therapies to treat neurodegenerative disorders. 


Dr. Lester: Chemical Physics Journal
Dr. Marsha I. Lester, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor of Chemistry, has been named editor of The Journal of Chemical Physics by the American Institute of Physics. The appointment will begin January 1, 2009. Dr. Lester’s research group has developed methods for generating open-shell complexes between free radical and reactive partners, and for stabilizing intermediates of key chemical reactions. 

Dr. Werner: Thompson Prize
Dr. Rachel Werner, assistant professor of medicine and senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, received the John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. The prize recognizes faculty from member programs whose work contributes to knowledge in health services based on their research. Dr. Werner’s research program examines the impact of health care quality improvement initiatives on racial disparities and overall quality of care. 

Health Care Students: DOW Award
Wharton MBA students Emily Rizza, WG ’08; Katie Vahle, WG ’08; and Joyce Liao, WG ’08, received the Doctors of the World (DOW) Health and Human Rights Leadership Award on May 19 in New York City. The award recognizes the students’ work in designing a voucher program for pregnant women in Kenya that will help reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates, as well as an HIV/AIDS- and TB-related project conducted a year earlier. The students worked as part of the Wharton Healthcare International Volunteer Project (WHIVP), a student-alumni group, in partnership with DOW, a non-profit volunteer medical services association.

The WHIVP-DOW partnership program aims to reduce the maternal mortality rate from some 410 per 100,000 births to 175 per 100,000 in the areas of Kenya covered. The plan pivots on a voucher system, backed by private and public funding, and is devised to encourage more expectant mothers to use existing healthcare facilities in the area.

Publication Services: Design Award
Penn Publication Services has been awarded the 2008 Graphic Design USA American Inhouse Design Award for three of its publications: the Penn Sleep Center Annual Report 2008; the Penn Alumni Botswana Travel Brochure; and the Economic Inclusion Brochure. The American Inhouse Design Awards serves the premier showcase for outstanding work by staff designers. It is a unique opportunity for the staff design, marketing and communications departments within corporations, publishing houses, non-profits, universities and government agencies to be recognized for their creativity, for the special challenges they face and for their contributions to their businesses and institutions.



Almanac - July 15, 2008 , Volume 55, No. 1