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Two More PIK Professors
July 14, 2009, Volume 56, No. 01



President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price announced two appointments of Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professors: Dr. Karen Glanz, a globally influential public health scholar, as the ninth PIK—and Dr. Shelley L. Berger, a world-renowned genetics researcher, as the tenth PIK professor.

Dr. Glanz’s appointment will be shared between the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, and she will lead a new center focused on research and training in health behaviors. 

Dr. Berger is the Daniel S. Och University Professor. Her appointment is shared between the department of cell and developmental biology in the School of Medicine and the department of biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. 

“The prevention of chronic illness is critical to the well-being of our society,” said President Gutmann. “Dr. Glanz’s innovative research in epidemiology, health psychology, and disease prevention enhances Penn’s strength in these interdisciplinary areas. Her appointment as our ninth PIK professor will help forge even stronger integration between our Schools of Medicine and Nursing through our new interdisciplinary Center for Health Behavior Research.”

Dr. Glanz specializes in the impact of behavior on health, especially the modification of risks for cancer and obesity. She is senior author and editor of Health Behavior and Health Education (1995), now in its third edition, the definitive book in its field. Throughout her career, she has been a leader in research that directly influences social policy, in such areas as cancer screening, ethnic differences in health behaviors, adherence to medical treatment regimens, and the use of new communication technologies in disease prevention. 

“Karen Glanz embodies the highest aspirations of the PIK professorship,” said Provost Price. “She brings together public health, public education, and public policy in ways that are transforming peoples’ lives around the world.”  

Dr. Glanz holds senior editorial positions at more than two dozen prominent journals. She has published more than 250 journal articles and book chapters, and has garnered more than $20 million in federal funding from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control over the past ten years. 

She has been the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Research Scholar in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  She taught previously at the University of Hawaii and Temple University and earned a PhD (1979), MPh (1977), and BA (1974) from the University of Michigan.

“One of the world’s most distinguished epigeneticists, and a wonderful mentor as well, Shelley Berger is revolutionizing our understanding of genetic information,” said President Gutmann. “Her work is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and holds tremendous potential for not only treating devastating diseases such as cancer, but also preventing them entirely.”

Dr. Berger is a leader in the rapidly evolving field of epigenetics, the study of genetic changes caused by factors other than genes. Her research focuses on the role of chromatin (the combination of DNA and proteins found in chromosomes) in regulating genes, especially in cancer and viral infections. 

This work brings together genetics and biochemistry to inform the study of critical diseases—for example, the changes that occur when tumors progress from benign to metastatic states —and ultimately lead to the development of new treatments and therapies. 

“Shelley Berger’s tremendously exciting work keeps Penn at the cutting edge of medical discovery,” said Provost Price. “Her research has already proven transformative, and her great reputation as a teacher and advisor is well-known to her future colleagues and students at Penn.”

Dr. Berger was previously Hilary Koprowski Professor at the Wistar Institute, where she taught since 1993.  She received her PhD and BS in biology from the University of Michigan. 

The Daniel S. Och University Professorship is the generous gift of Jane and Daniel S. Och.  Mr. Och, W’82, is the founder of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, an alternative asset management firm in New York. He is a University Trustee, serves on the Wharton Undergraduate Executive Board, and mentors Penn students through the Jewish Heritage Program.

Dr. Gutmann launched the Penn Integrates Knowledge program in 2005. The University-wide initiative recruits exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines.


Almanac - July 14, 2009, Volume 56, No. 01