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Honors and Other Things
December 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 14

  • School of Medicine Awards of Excellence
  • Marshall Scholarship: Mr. Bennett
  • 2009-10 Fulbright Scholarships
  • Popescu Prize: Mr. Couch
  • NSF Advisory Committee: Dr. Harkavy
  • Book Prize: Mr. Schneider
  • Ivy Champs: Football and Volleyball
  • School of Medicine Awards of Excellence

    The winners of the 14th Annual School of Medicine Awards of Excellence were honored recently. The awards recognize outstanding performance by the faculty in research, mentoring and clinical areas. The following remarks are from that event.


    Dr. Peter W. Groeneveld, assistant professor of medicine, is the winner of this year’s Marjorie A. Bowman New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes achievements in the health evaluation sciences. Dr. Groeneveld is considered one of the nation’s most promising scholars investigating racial disparities in health care. His research has explored the connection between health disparities and the rate at which health care systems that serve a predominantly minority population have adopted advanced technologies. He has also examined whether minority patients, already known to be less trusting of physicians and health care systems, were less inclined to try innovative “high tech” therapies. His findings suggest that an important mechanism to eliminate national disparities in health care may be to improve the technology adoption practices of the small fraction of US hospitals that service disproportionately large numbers of minority patients. This important and influential work has helped  to create policy solutions.

    Dr. Craig H. Bassing, assistant professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine, is the winner of this year’s Michael S. Brown New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes emerging faculty investigators engaged in innovative discoveries. Dr. Bassing is engaged in exciting and important work that has potentially broad implications for evolutionary biology, basic cell biology and human health and disease. His research into the mechanisms that underlie lymphocyte development and DNA recombination-based T cell and B cell receptor diversity has resulted in a “game changing” hypothesis: the regulation of antigen-receptor gene rearrangements and general DNA damage responses co-evolved to develop an effective, adaptive immune system that does not predispose the host organism to auto-immunity or cancer. This, and other equally significant hypotheses resulting from his work, could have a critical effect on human diseases, particularly autoimmunity, lymphoma and leukomogenesis.

    Dr. Mark A. Lemmon, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, is the winner of this year’s Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award, which recognizes achievement in the broad field of biomedical research. Dr. Lemmon is widely considered a world leader in two distinct research areas in cellular signaling: signaling by receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and the role of inositol phospholipids in cellular control. His groundbreaking contributions to both of these areas have been internationally recognized, most notably for elegantly combining disciplines from structural and computational biology to cell biology and genetics. His recent work, using the EGF receptor, has explored how unexpected mutations in kinases drive cancer. He is now involved in innovative collaborative work with clinical groups to study other receptors in other cancers. The results from these investigations could have key implications for treatment decisions.

    Dr. Joshua P. Metlay, associate professor of medicine, is the winner of this year’s Samuel Martin Health Evaluation Sciences Research Award, which recognizes a member of the School of Medicine faculty for a body of work with an emphasis on health services research.  Dr. Metlay is considered a leading figure in the area of health outcomes research. His excellence and ingenuity is of particular significance in the area of community-acquired pneumonia and antibiotic resistance. His work with members of the Infectious Diseases Division has resulted in fundamental contributions to our understanding of these two important conditions, as well as the creation of evidence-based disease management strategies to address these clinical conditions.

    Dr. Paul A. Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is the winner of this year’s William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement for research in which the investigator directly interacts with human subjects. Dr. Offit has played a major role in vaccine development, in particular the development and licensing of the rotavirus vaccine. This vaccine has had a major impact on world health, especially in the developing world. The significance of this vaccine cannot be underestimated. Rotavirus accounts for roughly 600,000 infant deaths worldwide every year; it is responsible for more deaths in infants and children than any other single infectious agent.

    Dr. Josep Dalmau, professor of neurology, is the winner of this year’s Lady Barbara Colyton Prize for Autoimmune Research, which recognizes outstanding research in the field of autoimmune diseases. Dr. Dalmau is an internationally recognized leader in the biology of paraneoplastic syndromes, which are autoimmune diseases associated with cancer. Dr. Dalmau’s work has established that the nervous system is uniquely susceptible to antibodies against cellular antigens, and he has set the stage for specific treatment of these perplexing neurological syndromes.


    Dr. Charles P. O’Brien, professor of psychiatry, is the winner of this year’s Arthur K. Asbury Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has fostered the professional development of other faculty members by providing inspiring and effective counsel and opportunities for achievement. Dr. O’Brien is responsible for over 9,000 psychiatric patients. Despite this large clinical responsibility, he was able to establish and direct a clinical research program that has had a major impact on the treatment of addictive disorders. His research group has been responsible for numerous discoveries that have elucidated basic information on the nature of addiction and improved the results of treatment for addictive disorders. His work involves discovery of central nervous system changes involved in relapse, new medications, behavioral treatments and instruments for measuring the severity of addictive disorders.  Many of these discoveries are now utilized in common practice for the treatment of addictive disorders throughout the world. 


    Dr. Laurie A. Loevner, professor of radiology, is the winner of this year’s I.S. Ravdin Master Clinician Award, which recognizes an active master clinician who is a skillful, compassionate practitioner with a long and consistent record of contributions to the Penn School of Medicine and Health System. Dr. Loevner is regarded as a superb diagnostician, and her colleagues across the region seek her opinion on difficult cases. She is also well known for her unique ability to obtain image-guided biopsies in the base of the skull with great skill and safety, sparing patients from very difficult open surgical procedures. However, it is her dedication to her patients that truly sets Dr. Loevner apart. She is an unparalleled clinician, both with regard to her patients and with other healthcare professionals. Her tireless advocacy, her gentle compassion and her fierce determination in the fight against cancer make her one of the Health System’s most beloved physicians. In addition, Dr. Loevner shows her colleagues the same care and consideration she shows to her patients, and as such she is among the most respected faculty members at Penn Medicine. 

    Dr. Jeffrey A. Drebin, the William Maul Measey Professor of Surgical Research and John Rea Barton Professor and chair of the department of surgery, is the winner of this year’s Louis Duhring Outstanding Clinical Specialist Award. This award recognizes a clinical specialist physician who blends biomedical science and recent advances in clinical research and insight to provide cutting edge services to patients and colleagues, and applies clinical knowledge innovatively and creatively. Dr. Drebin is considered the foremost surgeon for pancreatic disease in the region. Pancreatic and biliary operations are among the most complex surgical procedures, and are generally associated with high morbidity and mortality. Since his arrival at Penn just over five years ago, the volume of these complex cases has increased significantly, while the outcomes experienced by patients have improved dramatically. It is a reflection of his tremendous skill that HUP now ranks among the top five hospitals in the nation in the University Health Consortium database in pancreatic surgery volume. Most important, however, is the significant reduction in morbidity and mortality for these patients. Dr. Drebin’s surgical skills have also resulted in better oncologic outcomes for his patients, with improved two- to three-year survival following surgery.  Coupled with his demonstrable technical skill are Dr. Drebin’s remarkable compassion, personal involvement, and commitment to his patients as they deal with these life-threatening diseases. In every way, he exceeds the highest standards of personal and professional conduct.

    Dr. Susan C. Day, clinical associate professor of medicine, is the winner of this year’s Sylvan Eisman Outstanding Primary Care Physician Award, which recognizes a physician in family or general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or obstetrics/gynecology who strives for continuous improvement and highest quality of practice. Dr. Day is the leading clinically active primary care physician at Penn Medicine, as well as a national leader in primary care reform and quality improvement. She was in vited to join his practice by Dr. Sylvan Eisman himself—making it more than fitting that she receive this award. Her devoted patient following and reputation as an outstanding clinician have led to her recognition as a “Top Doc” in Philadelphia magazine for several years—a considerable achievement for a primary care physician. Her commitment to her patients and her advocacy for the provision of quality primary care throughout the community continue to be hallmarks of her career. She is an excellent exemplar of how a leading clinician can adapt to the evolving role of physicians in continuous practice improvement. Her commitment both to her patients and to the quality of care in our national health care system is extraordinary and worthy of recognition.

    Dr. Bert W. O’Malley, Jr., the Gabriel Tucker Professor and chair of the department of otorhinolaryngology–head & neck surgery, is the co-winner of this year’s Luigi Mastroianni Clinical Innovator Award, which recognizes a Penn Medicine physician who has made significant contributions toward the invention and development of new techniques, approaches, procedures or devices that change medical practice and are of major benefit to patient care. Dr. O’Malley’s clinical expertise in the area of skull base tumor surgery, head and neck and thyroid cancer and endoscopic sinus surgery has led him to focus on the development of novel technologies such as image-guided surgery and robotic surgery. Along with his co-awardee Dr. Weinstein, he co-founded the first human robotics head and neck and skull base program in the world. He is co-principal investigator of the first IRB-approved human clinical trial for robotic surgery in his specialty, and is actively developing novel robotics surgical procedures and instrumentation to advance the use of this technology in all aspects of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. This cutting-edge research has resulted in dramatic improvement of patient quality of life and improved long-term function, in addition to reducing morbidity.

    Dr. Gregory S. Weinstein, professor of otorhinolaryngology and vice-chair of the department of otorhinolaryngology, is the co-winner of this year’s Luigi Mastroianni Clinical Innovator Award, which recognizes a Penn Medicine physician who has made significant contributions toward the invention and development of new techniques, approaches, procedures or devices that change medical practice and are of major benefit to patient care. Dr. Weinstein is co-founder of the world’s first Trans Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) Program with Dr. Bert O’Malley. He has an international reputation for expertise in organ preservation for cancers involving the voice box, and was the first surgeon in the United States to perform the voice box preserving surgery, the Supracricoid Partial Laryngectomy. As the founding member and co-director of the Penn Center for Head and Neck Cancer, Dr. Weinstein has built an internationally-renowned multi-disciplinary team for the management of all aspects of care of patients with head and neck cancers. He has also been involved in establishing the first training program in TORS, and has trained physician-researchers from a number of centers around the United States and visiting surgeons from around the world. Trans-oral robotic surgery has revolutionized management of many tumors of the larynx and pharynx. It is clear that the techniques developed by Drs. O’Malley and Weinstein are likely to continue to expand internationally and endure.

    Dr. William G. Baxt, professor and chair of the department of emergency medicine, is the winner of this year’s Alfred Stengel Health System Champion Award, which recognizes a Penn Medicine physician who has made significant contributions toward the clinical integration of UPHS, along with a demonstrated commitment to the improvement of quality care. Dr. Baxt has made enormous contributions to the field of emergency medicine and improved the quality of emergency care for all who live in the Philadelphia region. His accomplishments are historic for Penn and extraordinary in scope. Since founding Penn’s emergency department (ED) 15 years ago, he has crafted it into one of the leading departments in the country. Dr. Baxt has not only been a steadfast advocate for emergency medicine, but also, more importantly, the patient. He has been unwavering in his dedication to achieving and maintaining excellence in patient care by successfully campaigning for more facilities, resources and staff. He has worked continuously to assure that emergency medicine and the care delivered in the ED is fully integrated into HUP and the Health System’s affiliated hospitals. Dr. Baxt has worked closely with department chairs, chiefs, and clinicians to gain their input on clinical issues, system solutions and efficient hospital throughput.

    Marshall Scholarship: Mr. Bennett


    Penn senior Joshua Bennett has won a prestigious United Kingdom Government Marshall Scholarship for graduate studies in the UK. He plans to attend the University of Warwick, where he will pursue an MA in theatre and performance studies. He is among 35 winners of the scholarship.

    Mr. Bennett, who is majoring in Africana studies and English in the College, is a member of Penn’s Excellano Project spoken-word team, co-founder and former political action chair of the Penn NAACP chapter, co-founder and chair of the advocacy group Black Men United and co-founder and co-editor of the first US undergraduate research journal of Africana studies. He is an active member of Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship, participates in the University Scholars program and volunteers as an undergraduate research peer advisor. Mr. Bennett is Penn’s 10th Marshall Scholar.

    Mr. Bennett, an HBO “Brave New Voices” poetry-slam champion, performed at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word last spring. He received a standing ovation from President and Mrs. Obama and 200 guests for his poem “Tamara’s Opus” about his struggle to communicate with his deaf sister. A clip is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U5BwD8zOeM.


    2009-10 Fulbright Scholarships

    Dr. Marie Gottschalk and Dr. Charlene Compher of the University of Pennsylvania have been awarded 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholarships.

    Dr. Gottschalk, who researches the welfare state and mass incarceration in America, is professor of political science in the School of Arts and Sciences. She received a short-term grant to travel to Japan to lecture at the Nagoya American Studies Seminar for two weeks this past summer.

    Dr. Compher, associate professor of nutrition science in the School of Nursing, studies adolescent obesity and faculty mentorship. She will use her Fulbright grant to work in the African Regional Research Program at the University of Botswana.

    The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    Popescu Prize: Mr. Couch

    Mr. Randall C. Couch, manager of communications design at Information Systems and Computing, has been named as the winner of the 2009 Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation, sponsored by the Poetry Society and the Ratiu Family Foundation. Mr. Couch won the award for his translation of Gabriela Mistral’s book, Madwomen. The biennial prize honors the best book of poetry translated into English from any European language in the prior two-year period.

    NSF Advisory Committee: Dr. Harkavy

    Dr. Ira Harkavy, associate vice president and director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, has been appointed to serve on the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). Dr. Harkavy also served two terms on the Advisory Committee of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences of the NSF. EHR promotes excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to strengthen US education at all levels and to support US research, innovation and economic competitiveness.

    Book Prize: Mr. Schneider

    Dr. Eric Schneider, adjunct professor of history and assistant dean and associate director for academic affairs, has been selected to receive the Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book in North American History from the Urban History Association for his most recent book, Smack: Heroin and the American City. The Kenneth Jackson Award is presented annually to recognize works on the basis of originality, significance, and contribution to the field of urban history. Dr. Schneider will be presented with the award at the association’s annual dinner in January.

    Ivy Champs: Football and Volleyball

    The Quaker Football Team and its 15 seniors earned the Ivy title, defeating Cornell 34-0 at Franklin Field last month. It was the team’s eighth’s straight win.

    The Quaker Volleyball Team also won the Ivy title and a trip to the NCAA Championship with a 3-1 win against Dartmouth last month. The victory gives Penn its first Ivy League championship since 2003 and is the program’s eighth Ancient Eight crown. It is also the fourth Ivy title for head coach Kerry Carr.


    Almanac - December 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 14