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School of Medicine Awards of Excellence

December 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 15

The winners of the 15th annual School of Medicine Awards of Excellence were honored at this year’s dinner on November 17, 2010.
The awards recognize outstanding performance by the faculty in the research, clinical and mentoring areas.
The following remarks are from the recent event.


Dr. H. Lee Sweeney, William Maul Measey Professor and Chairman of Physiology, is the winner of this year’s Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award, which recognizes achievement in the broad field of biomedical research.  Dr. Sweeney is being recognized for his groundbreaking ideas and scientific discoveries in the study of muscle physiology, muscle disease and molecular motors. His work has provided new details into the etiologies of devastating diseases, including cardiomyopathies, muscular dystrophies and cancer. His discovery of new methods for the transfer of genes into muscle and the development of new drugs for the treatment of muscular dystrophies (MD) and cystic fibrosis will make tremendous strides in improving the quality of life for patients stricken with these diseases.

This award was established in 1996 to honor Dr. Stanley N. Cohen, the School of Medicine Class of 1960 alumnus whose remarkable investigatory research has reordered our understanding of biology and biological development. The award acknowledges a member of the faculty for a body of work, with an emphasis on biomedical research, performed at Penn in the last five years.

Dr. John M. Maris is the winner of the William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award. He has made seminal contributions to the field of pediatric cancer. His research focuses on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of neuroblastoma as well as developing innovative clinical approaches to treatment of this disease through the national oncology groups where he holds administrative appointments, including chair of the Children’s Oncology Group Neuroblastoma Disease Committee and chair of the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy Study Committee. His work led to the first clinical trial of a molecularly targeted therapy for neuroblastoma. His research has been continuously supported by external funding. He has contributed substantially to the scholarship in his field. He is on the editorial boards of Pediatric Blood and Cancer and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He is a grant reviewer for many national and international organizations and, in 2008, was appointed as a charter member of the NIH/NCI Cancer Genetics Study Section. In 2007, he was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and he received the Oski Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. Dr. Maris’ contributions to teaching in the research and clinical settings have been equally impressive. He was Program Director of the CHOP Hematology/Oncology Fellowship from 2001 through 2008. He received the 2009 Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award, a Penn Medicine Award of Excellence. He frequently lectures nationally and internationally and has held organizing roles in a number of scientific meetings.

Established in 1996 to honor Dr. Osler, the “Father of Clinical Medicine,” who in the 1880s at the School of Medicine, revolutionized clinical teaching and research, the award is granted to a member of the faculty for a body of work, with an emphasis on clinical research, performed predominantly at Penn in the last five years.

Dr. Kevin G. Volpp is the winner of the Samuel Martin Health Evaluation Sciences Research Award. He is the director of the Center for Health Incentives at the Leonard Davis Institute and the Penn CMU NIA P30 Center on Behavioral Economics and Health (LDI), as well as associate professor of medicine and associate professor of health care management at the Wharton School. Dr. Volpp is one of the world’s leading scholars studying how regulatory and financial policies affect health care decisions.

Dr. Volpp has significantly advanced this field by using experimental designs to test how changes in incentives can lead to changes in health behavior. Dr. Volpp was the first to demonstrate that financial incentives significantly increase long-term quit rates in employer settings. He conducted a study among General Electric employees published in the New England Journal of Medicine that led to a tripling of long-term smoking cessation rates, adoption of a program for all 152,000 GE employees nationwide and Dr. Volpp receiving the 2010 British Medical Journal Group Translating Research into Practice Award. He has also conducted a number of influential studies on the effects of resident work hour reform on hospital care quality, including two articles that were published together in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He has been the PI or Co-PI of more than $30 million in funding since joining the faculty 10 years ago. He has received many honors, including the 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at the White House and the 2007 Alice S. Hersh Award from Academy Health.

The Samuel Martin Health Evaluation Sciences Research Award was created in 1996 to honor the memory of Dr. Samuel P. Martin, III, professor of medicine, executive director of LDI and chair of Wharton’s Health Care Systems Unit. This award is granted to a member of the School of Medicine faculty for a body of work, with an emphasis on health services research, performed predominantly at Penn in the last five years.

Dr. Roger A. Greenberg, assistant professor of cancer biology and assistant investigator of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, is the winner of this year’s Michael S. Brown New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes emerging faculty investigators engaged in innovative discoveries. Dr. Greenberg is engaged in imaginative and promising research which has made critical contributions to our understanding of DNA damage sensing and repair. Since joining Penn’s faculty in 2007, he has established himself as an outstanding teacher, mentor and researcher. His work has led to fundamental discoveries in the fields of DNA repair, chromatin and cancer biology, and has important implications for both basic and translational cancer biology. Dr. Greenberg has made major contributions in extremely competitive fields that are populated by some of the premier scientists in cancer biology. He epitomizes the ideal of the Penn Medicine physician-scientist.

Created in 1996 to honor the School of Medicine Class of 1966 Nobel Laureate Michael S. Brown, whose research into molecular genetics pioneered new understanding of fundamental biology and medicine, this award recognizes emerging faculty investigators engaged in innovative discoveries.

Dr. David T. Teachey, assistant professor of pediatrics, 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. Teachey has made important discoveries in the study of autoimmune disease in general, and Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Syndrome (ALPS) in particular. His discovery that approximately half of pediatric patients diagnosed with Evans Syndrome actually have ALPS is extremely significant, and his work with signal transduction inhibitors in malignant and nonmalignant lymphoproliferative disorders has shown amazing preliminary results and complete responses in highly refractory patients. The oncologic paradigm which he has applied to his work in ALPS has made him unique in the field, and his research reference lab for apoptotic testing of potential ALPS patients rivals the NIH and the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Teachey’s record of basic investigation and translational accomplishment is exceptional.

The Lady Barbara Colyton Autoimmune Research Award was created in January 2002 to recognize a faculty member, fellow or postdoctoral student who has been engaged in innovative discoveries and outstanding research. It is presented annually by a faculty committee appointed by the Dean.

Dr. Virginia W. Chang, 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. Chang is being honored for her important and influential work investigating the social determinants and consequences of obesity. Since joining the Penn faculty in 2003, she has made significant and sustained contributions towards our understanding of the complex nature of obesity, from the influence of neighborhoods on the risk of obesity, to the relationship between obesity and the quality of medical care, and the inter-relationship between obesity, medical technologies and social disparities in health. Given the alarming rise in obesity in the United States, the significance of her work cannot be overstated.

Established in 2006 to honor Dr. Marjorie A. Bowman, the founding chair of the department of family practice and community medicine, this award recognizes a junior faculty member whose research has illuminated a fundamental clinical problem or improved the organization and delivery of health care.


Dr. Ronald M. Fairman is the Clyde F. Barker-William Maul Measley Professor of Surgery and chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. He is the winner of this year’s Luigi Mastroianni Clinical Innovator Award, which recognizes a 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. Fairman is being recognized for his pioneering and innovative work in the field of endovascular stents. He is known for his gentle and empathetic approach to patients, as well as his reputation as an aggressive vascular surgeon who will take on any difficult problem. Dr. Fairman is regarded by colleagues as the “go-to” vascular surgeon for complex vascular problems and is considered a superb clinician, teacher and clinical innovator. His groundbreaking work in endovascular stents has manifestly effected the specialty and has garnered him a national and international reputation. Dr. Fairman’s work has put the department of surgery at the forefront of the development of endovascular surgical techniques for aortic, carotid and peripheral vascular disease.

Established in 1997 to honor Dr. Luigi Mastroianni, Jr., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and leading innovator in reproductive biology, this award recognizes a clinician who has pioneered the invention and development of new techniques, procedures, approaches which, in the spirit of Dr. Mastroianni, changes medical practice.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Gerdes, associate chairman of the department of pediatrics, chief of the Section on Newborn Pediatrics at Pennsylvania Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics, 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 the University of Pennsylvania Health System, along with a demonstrated commitment to the improvement of quality care. Dr. Gerdes has been honored for his outstanding abilities as a clinical educator, physician and administrator. When UPHS acquired Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Gerdes was the president of the Professional Staff at Pennsylvania Hospital and a member of the Medical Education and Research Integration Transition Committee. In these roles he showed great creativity and persistence in leading the medical staff during that tumultuous transition period. He also achieved integration of neonatology services, which has been highly successful in terms of clinical service, shared protocols, clinical research collaboration and substantial financial gains. Dr. Gerdes is also known for his leadership in developing a network of NICU services in community hospitals, which has resulted in the participation of seven community NICUs, thus expanding Penn’s presence and improving its referral base. He has also been an active participant in local and state medical and government organizations, collaborating with obstetricians, pediatricians and administrators to improve service and outcomes for mothers and babies. His commitment to providing quality care and improving the lives of patients throughout the region is unwavering.

Created in 1997 to honor Dr. Alfred Stengel, professor of medicine and the first vice president for medical affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, who advanced the concept of medical specialization within the discipline of internal medicine, the award recognizes a physician who has contributed significantly to the clinical integration of the Health System in one of the following areas: quality improvement, clinical efficiency, disease management, or prevention and wellness.

Dr. Sidney Kobrin, associate professor of medicine, 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 School of Medicine and Health System. Dr. Kobrin is known for his skill as a superb diagnostician, a talented and skilled nephrologist, and a compassionate and dedicated physician. He is widely regarded as the “doctor’s doctor” amongst nephrologists, with an outstanding knowledge of medicine and nephrology. He is also known as a physician with genuine compassion, always willing to spend as much time as necessary with each individual and possessing a distinctive combination of clinical excellence and sincere empathy. Dr. Kobrin has also been recognized with the Tow Humanitarian Award as well as the J. Russell Elkinton Faculty Teaching Award.

Established in 1997 to honor the legendary physician Isadore S. Ravdin, this award recognizes an active clinician who is regarded and revered by his colleagues as a masterful practitioner—a “doctor’s doctor.” The awardee must be credited with a long and consistent record of contributions to the School and Health System.

Dr. Ann L. Honebrink is an outstanding clinician, administrator and educator. She is the winner of the Sylvan Eisman Outstanding Primary Care Physician Award. She is the director of Penn Health for Women at Radnor, the largest multi-disciplinary women’s health program on the Main Line, with a reputation for providing superior care for women. Under Dr. Honebrink’s leadership, in addition to primary Ob/Gyn and Internal Medicine, the program has expanded and currently includes gynecologic sub-specialty care, nutrition, psychology, a sleep program, breast surgeon, yoga, pilates and weight management. She is an active and enthusiastic teacher of medical students and residents. In 2005, she was appointed director of the Core Clinical Clerkship in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has held leadership positions in numerous professional societies, including past president of the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia, past chair of the Pennsylvania Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and is currently the District III secretary and chair of the Maternal Mortality Committee for the national ACOG organization.

Created in 1997, this award honors Dr. Sylvan H. Eisman, the renowned and revered Medical Center physician and School of Medicine Class of 1941 alumnus. Presented to a Health System primary care physician who practices family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics or obstetrics/gynecology (women’s health), the award recognizes the colleague who goes beyond the norm and exemplifies the Health System’s excellent care.

Dr. Scott O. Trerotola,professor of radiology and surgery, chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology and associate chair for Interventional Radiology, 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. Trerotola is a focused, dedicated and productive radiologist. He is known for his interdisciplinary focus and his commitment to his patients, which have resulted in important and positive changes in patient care in multiple arenas. In particular, his interest in dialysis and vascular access has had a direct effect on nephrology, and this interdisciplinary work has made him an internationally recognized expert in the field.  More importantly, it has saved the lives of innumerable patients undergoing hemodialysis.

Established in 1997, this award honors Dr. Louis Duhring, chair of the department of dermatology from 1875 to 1910, and the founder of dermatology as a discipline in America. It recognizes a teaching and practicing physician in a clinical or ancillary department, exclusive of primary care, who combines biomedical research with clinical insight and knowledge to provide leading-edge service and creative care to patients and colleagues—while contributing to the Health System’s excellent care.


Dr. Harold I. Feldman is the winner of the Arthur Asbury Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. He is a professor of medicine, director of the Clinical Epidemiology Unit in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, director of the Division of Epidemiology, co-director of the Clinical Research Computing Unit of the CCEB. Dr. Feldman is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in renal epidemiology and is an award winning teacher who has made exemplary contributions to undergraduate and graduate medical education.

Dr. Feldman is widely recognized as an outstanding mentor. His mentees describe his generosity, good humor, selflessness, wisdom, integrity and his unwavering commitment to research excellence. One colleague stated that he “appears to mentor out of the pure joy of being a part of and seeing the success in others.” He is known particularly for his listening skills. A senior faculty noted that “listening is not trivial as a skill for mentoring, because in interacting with Harv you feel heard. He is most careful to ask questions to show he is trying to understand your point of view. More than that, he helps you to clarify your point of view.” He is widely recognized for his genuine concern and interest in mentoring the whole person and helping his mentees navigate the challenges of balancing productive and happy personal and professional lives. He is credited with being a role model for former mentees who now serve as mentors.

Several of Dr. Feldman’s current and former mentees describe the mentoring experience with him to be transformational and empowering. A colleague states, “Once or twice during one’s academic career, a colleague touches one’s life in a way that has a transformational informational influence. Such individuals have the capacity to look beyond the usual cherishing and nurturing the gifts of others. They have the fortitude to build professional opportunities for younger persons from their work. Ultimately they empower younger colleagues so that they can find their own unique and personal vision as academicians and independent investigators. Dr. Harold (Harv) Feldman is one of those unusual and extraordinary persons with these qualities.”

Established in 2004, this award recognizes a faculty member who has fostered professional development of other faculty members by providing inspiring and effective counsel and opportunities for achievement. The outstanding mentor establishes a supportive and nurturing relationship with younger faculty members and helps them to negotiate the complex demands of academic life, improve their skills and opportunities and reconcile the competing claims of work and home life.


Almanac - December 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 15