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John Gearhart: PIK Professor
September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2



President Amy Gutmann and Provost Ronald Daniels announced the appointment of John Gearhart as the eighth Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor.

Dr. Gearhart, a pioneer in stem cell research, is the James Effron University Professor, as well as director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. His appointment, effective July 1, 2008, is jointly shared between the department of cell and developmental biology in the School of Medicine and the department of animal biology in the School of Veterinary Medicine. 

“John Gearhart combines cutting-edge research, education, and public service in regenerative medicine. His decision to join the Penn faculty will lead our stem cell research program to global preeminence,” said President Gutmann. “His arrival will bolster Penn’s already strong commitment to translational bench-to-bedside research.  

“America’s continued vitality, growth, and health,” Dr. Gutmann continued, “depends directly on our nation’s commitment to scientists and scientific research. We expect that Dr. Gearhart and his colleagues will help to galvanize public support for indisputably crucial stem cell research initiatives.”

In 1998, Dr. Gearhart led a research team that first identified and isolated human embryonic stem cells, and he has been a leading advocate for the federal funding of stem cell research. His groundbreaking research focuses on the role of genes in regulating the formation of human tissues and embryos, especially in causing mental retardation, Down Syndrome, and other congenital birth defects.
“John Gearhart’s arrival reaffirms Penn’s place at the forefront of medical and scientific research,” said Provost Daniels. “He is the ideal director for our new Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as he has been a leader in both research breakthroughs and public discussion.” 

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. Gearhart taught at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1980 to 2008). He received his PhD (1970) in genetics from Cornell University, MSc (1966) in plant genetics from the University of New Hampshire, and BSc (1964) in biology from Penn State University.


Craig W. Effron, W ’81, is a founding partner of Scoggin Capital Management, a hedge fund in New York. As a member of the University Committee on Undergraduate Financial Aid, he was a strong advocate for making Penn more financially accessible. To offer incentives for scholarship gifts, he created the Craig Effron Challenge Fund to provide matching dollars for new scholarship funds. He later became one of the first to support President Gutmann’s vision of distinguished professors who could cross school and disciplinary boundaries, donating the James Effron University Professorship in honor of his father. Mr. Effron is co-chair of the Major Gift Committee of Penn’s Making History Campaign. He and his wife, Caryn, are proud Penn parents.


Almanac - September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2