2016 Perelman School of Medicine Awards of Excellence
The following faculty members will receive this year’s Perelman School of Medicine Awards of Excellence at the 21st annual dinner on Wednesday, November 9. The awards recognize outstanding performance by faculty in the research, clinical and mentoring areas.
Shelley L. Berger, Daniel S. Och University Professor, is the winner of this year’s Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award, which recognizes a member of the faculty for a body of work with an emphasis on biomedical research. Dr. Berger has consistently been at the cutting edge of the epigenetics field over the last two decades. Her groundbreaking work is focused on understanding how the regulation of gene expression through histone modifications controls major developmental processes including aging, behavior and cancer. Her past research findings have helped to establish the prevailing view that histone modifications regulate genomic functions, including transcription of genes, DNA replication during cell division, repair of DNA mutations as a result of DNA damage and other processes. Work in her laboratory has focused on transcription, or the turning on and off of gene expression, and the myriad of histone modifications that occur, such as acetylation, phosphorylation and methylation, among other chemical changes.
Her research has also helped to reveal how some of these modifications, first characterized on histone substrates, function to regulate non-histone proteins. In 2015-2016 alone, Dr. Berger published five major articles in Science, Nature and Genes & Development, as well as a review article in Cell. More recent work from her laboratory shows that cellular senescence triggers inflammation via signaling through nucleic acid sensing pathways, work which crosses over into the area of immunology.
Peter J. Snyder, professor of medicine, is the winner of this year’s William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award. This award is granted to a member of the medical faculty for a body of work with an emphasis on clinical research. Dr. Snyder is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the evaluation and treatment of pituitary tumors, particularly so-called “non-secreting” pituitary adenomas which he showed to actually be gonadotroph cell adenomas. By identifying them as pituitary adenomas, he influenced the type of surgery used for these lesions and provided a tumor marker by which treatment could be monitored. His research also demonstrated that men who are infertile as a result of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism of prepubertal onset require replacement of both luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to become fertile, but men who are infertile as a result of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism of postpubertal onset require only LH. Inspired by many years of providing treatment for secondary hypogonadism in these patients, Dr. Snyder has in more recent years led a major national effort to understand the significance of the reduced testosterone levels that are commonly seen in aging males, sometimes referred to as the “male menopause.” The Testosterone Trials (TTrials) screened over 50,000 men at 12 clinical trial sites to find 788 to qualify and enroll. The results of the first three trials (Sexual Function, Physical Function and Vitality) were published in the New England Journal of Medicine this year and showed that increasing the serum testosterone concentrations of these men to levels normal for young men improved all aspects of sexual function, probably improved walking ability and improved mood and depressive symptoms.
Scott D. Halpern, associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and medical ethics & health policy, is the winner of this year’s Samuel Martin Health Evaluation Sciences Award. This award is granted to a member of the medical faculty for a body of work with an emphasis on health services research. Dr. Halpern is recognized as one of the world’s leading scholars at the intersection of health services research and medical ethics, and his work falls into three broad areas: end-of-life care, the organization and delivery of critical care and the use of behavioral economic principles to promote health-related behaviors, including smoking cessation and participation in randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
His empirical work in end-of-life care is supplemented by compelling ethical analysis and by calls to apply to end-of-life care policy the same analytic rigor and evidentiary standards taken for granted in new drug development. Among his many RCTs launched in this area is the Randomized Evaluation of Default Access to Palliative Services (REDAPS) trial, the largest-ever NIH-funded prospective study in end-of-life care. For his work in smoking cessation, Dr. Halpern led the largest trial ever conducted of financial incentives for smoking cessation. Within a month of publication, CVS Health, the 12th-largest US employer, took the approach shown to be most effective in Dr. Halpern’s trial and implemented it for its employees nationwide. This work also helped establish a use case for “behavioral phenotyping”—a personalized alternative to one-size-fits-all behavior change, akin to precision medicine in drug development. Dr. Halpern has also advanced the science fundamental to his applied work by designing and testing approaches to improve enrollment in RCTs, methods for randomization and data analysis and the quality of endpoints selected in RCTs.
Elizabeth A. Grice, assistant professor of dermatology, is the winner of this year’s Michael S. Brown New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes emerging faculty investigators engaged in innovative discoveries. Dr. Grice defined the first topographical map of the human skin microbiome using culture-independent approaches, foundational work which has become the standard reference of comparison for studies analyzing the skin microbiome in various health and disease states. Much of her research program focuses on chronic non-healing wounds, which affect over 6 million patients in the US and exceed $10 billion in healthcare costs annually. Her research has evolved into investigating how microbes integrate with the host immune responses, microbe-microbe interactions of the skin microbiome, and microbial contributions to wound healing. Recognizing the connection between animal health, human health and the environment, the Grice lab takes a “One Health” approach toward understanding the skin microbiome and contribution to health and disease, and her laboratory functions effectively across disciplines within Penn Medicine, as well as with the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine. As a leader at the forefront of the skin microbiome field, Dr. Grice’s lab is invested in standardizing and benchmarking best practices for performing skin microbiome studies.
Jeffrey S. Gerber, assistant professor of pediatrics at CHOP, is the winner of this year’s Marjorie A. Bowman New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes a junior faculty member whose research has illuminated a fundamental clinical problem or improved the organization and delivery of healthcare. Dr. Gerber’s work focuses on the epidemiology and outcomes of antibiotic use in children. He has developed into a national leader in antimicrobial stewardship research whose work is notable for its broad array of experimental approaches, and which addresses both inpatient stewardship and antimicrobial use in the outpatient setting. Using the largest clinical database of freestanding children’s hospitals in the US, he helped to establish the rise of MRSA as a cause of infection in hospitalized children.
He designed, implemented and analyzed a landmark study to improve antibiotic prescribing by adapting principles of inpatient stewardship interventions to the ambulatory setting, focusing on the overuse of off-guideline, broad-spectrum antibiotics for common childhood respiratory tract infections. His work has also addressed the relationship between early life antibiotic use and growth.
Brenda L. Banwell, professor of neurology at CHOP, is the winner of this year’s Lady Barbara Colyton Prize for Autoimmune Research. This award recognizes a medical faculty member who has been engaged in innovative discoveries and outstanding research in the area of autoimmune diseases. Dr. Banwell is internationally-recognized as a leader of pediatric MS. She pioneered advances in pediatric multiple sclerosis at a time when many adult clinicians believed that pediatric MS did not exist, and pediatricians and child neurologists either failed to recognize the symptoms or diagnosed children with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Along with her colleague, Amit Bar-Or, she has examined the alterations in the pediatric immune system that incite the proinflammatory cascade, particularly immune regulation and immune-neural interaction in the context of inflammation, injury and repair of the central nervous system. She and her team established standards for high-quality sample procurement from children, and the biorepository created through the pediatric demyelinating disease research program is an invaluable resource.
A key component of her team’s work has been the ability to perform comparative analyses, which have been pivotal in determining distinctions between different autoimmune disorders as well as between chronic and monophasic manifestations of inflammation in the brain. In addition, their studies have included elucidation of effector and regulatory properties of distinct immune cell (principally T cell, B cell and myeloid cell) subsets; their interactions; and how these may contribute to inflammatory neurological diseases, primarily MS. This collaborative effort has established an international consortium for the understanding of autoimmune research in pediatric MS, and continues to translate basic science discoveries into novel experimental models including human in-vivo biological proof-of-principle studies of therapeutic mode-of-action, developments and application of biological assays to monitor diseases activity and evaluate response to treatments and the development of clinically meaningful biomarkers for autoimmune disease.
John H. Glick, the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Professor of Clinical Oncology, is the recipient of this year’s Arthur Asbury Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. This award recognizes a faculty member who has fostered the professional development of others by providing inspiring and effective counsel and opportunities for achievement. During Dr. Glick’s 42 years as a physician and leader at Penn Medicine, he has served as vice president of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, associate dean for resource development for Perelman, president of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Professor of Clinical Oncology, professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Abramson Cancer Center from 1985-2006.
He is a nationally recognized medical oncologist in the areas of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer and has conducted clinical research that has changed the standard of care across the field. It is in his role as mentor to dozens of Penn Medicine faculty, however, that he has made one of his greatest contributions to the future of medicine. His colleagues note the profound impact he has had on their careers and their lives, and his ability to bring out the best of their skills, abilities and talents. Dr. Glick’s mentees describe his concern for their personal lives as well as their professional careers, and his understanding of the important balance of both. He mentors both through advice and counsel, as well as by example.
Joseph M. Serletti, the Henry Royster-William Maul Measey Professor in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, is the winner of this year’s Louis Duhring Outstanding Clinical Specialist Award. This award goes to a teaching and practicing physician in a clinical or ancillary department who has combined biomedical research with clinical insight and knowledge to provide leading-edge service and creative care to patients and colleagues. Dr. Serletti specializes in microvascular reconstructive surgery, performing complex procedures including free tissue flaps, most notably in his pioneering efforts to improve reconstructive surgery following mastectomy. Since his recruitment to Penn in 2005 as chief of plastic surgery, his division has become one of the most distinguished reconstructive microsurgical centers in the US.
Over 700 microsurgical procedures are performed each year at Penn, and the center’s 99% success rate of flaps performed is the highest in the world. In addition to his superb technical skills, Dr. Serletti is an outstanding educator who has trained a number of plastic surgery fellows who have joined the faculty at Penn or gone on to academic positions around the country. His scholarship in his field is evidenced by over 190 publications in peer-reviewed journals; he lectures widely on his specialty in national and international venues, and he has served in a number of leadership positions in national plastic surgery organizations.
Laura M. Kosseim, associate professor of clinical medicine, is the winner of this year’s Sylvan Eisman Outstanding Primary Care Physician Award. This award recognizes a Health System primary care physician who goes beyond the norm and exemplifies the Health System’s excellent care. Now in her 20th year of practice at Penn Medicine, Dr. Kosseim embodies the attributes recognized by this award. She is also a gifted and popular teacher and a mainstay of the General Medicine Primary Care Program, which she helped to develop.
Besides these contributions, she has taken on additional responsibilities, most notably as a member of the ortho outcomes committee. As the key physician for their highly successful risk stratification tool, her work has helped drive a “spectacular” reduction in observed to expected mortality, providing joint replacement patients with comprehensive pre-operative evaluation and systems for assuring that peri- and post-op care is well-coordinated, safe and of the highest quality.
David J. Callans, professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Presbyterian Medical Center of Philadelphia, is the recipient of the Luigi Mastroianni, Jr., Clinical Innovator Award. This award recognizes a clinician who has pioneered the invention and development of new techniques, procedures and approaches which change medical practice. Dr. Callans’ research within the field of cardiac electrophysiology has had a major impact on the way arrhythmias, in particular ventricular tachycardias (VTs) are managed nationally and internationally, significantly improving catheter-based ablation procedures and techniques. He was the first to recognize the need to change the approach to ablation of hemodynamically untolerated VT, and developed ablation approaches that target the substrate of the VT circuit.
In the EP laboratory, he combined electrophysiologic mapping with the use of intracardiac catheter-based echocardiography to improve anatomic localization in the interventional management of cardiac arrhythmias and reduce risk with continuous online visual monitoring for early identification of complications. His recent work involving initiating rigorous outcomes analysis of ablative therapy “has been critical to guiding ‘best EP practice’ in the world-wide EP community.”
Scott O. Trerotola, the Stanley Baum Professor of Radiology, is the winner of this year’s Alfred Stengel Health System Champion Award. This award is granted to a physician who has contributed significantly to the clinical integration of the Health System. As chief of interventional radiology, Dr. Trerotola has been a leader of quality improvement and clinical efficiency within Penn Medicine since 2001. He empaneled and chaired the department’s first formal CEQI committee and since 2008 has served as its patient safety and quality officer. In recognition of his efforts in this area, he received the HUP Patient Advocacy Award in 2010 and was co-recipient of Patient Safety and Quality Awards in 2005 and 2012. The ingenuity and effectiveness of his patient- and family-centered care efforts such as the “Hey that Hurts” checklist and the “Engaged Paused for Safety” timeout process have been recognized during Joint Commission visits, and he is Guest Relations’ “go-to” person when a patient has any kind of issue to discuss. He has recently developed a corporate UPHS Radiology infrastructure that brings all of the sister institutions together under the umbrella of a UPHS Radiology Enterprise CEQI committee, while maintaining CEQI infrastructure at each of the entities and within each division. This pyramidal enterprise is supported by efforts from technologists, nurses, residents, attending physicians and hospital administrators and serves as a highly successful model for Health System integration elsewhere.
In addition to his work in radiology, he co-created the HHT Center of Excellence, which has dramatically streamlined the care of tri-state area patients with this genetic disorder. His work has had an impact on other clinical specialties at UPHS which interface with radiology, including his “Venous Access Team” of nurses, highly sought after for their clinical skills and patient-centered focus. He serves as an outstanding mentor for junior faculty and trainees in the field of healthcare quality improvement.
Penn’s Annual Alumni Awards
The University of Pennsylvania honored these distinguished alumni for their outstanding service to the University at the 82nd Annual Alumni Award of Merit Gala on October 28.
Alumni Awards of Merit
Alan Levin, C’64, G’65, has built several successful businesses, and is now president and owner of Fine Arts Industries, one of the largest manufacturers of framed pictures in the United States. As president of the Penn Club of Colorado for more than 25 years and as a volunteer for the University’s Alumni Interview Program for more than a decade, he has been active in raising Penn’s profile in his home state, welcoming faculty, coaches, teams and cultural groups to Colorado. He is also an active member of his class, serving on reunion committees and as co-chair of his 50th reunion.
Paul Levy, L’72, founded the private equity investment firm JLL Partners Inc. in 1988 after a successful career as an executive in the investment banking and fashion industries. He has continuously supported Penn as a strategist, philanthropist and motivator. He is an emeritus member of Penn’s Board of Trustees, a former Overseer of Penn Law and member of the Penn Medicine Board. Mr. Levy was also a member of the Steering Committee for the University’s Making History Campaign and chaired Penn Law’s Bold Ambitions Campaign from 2006 to 2012. Together with his wife Karen, he endowed the Levy Scholars program, helping to transform legal education at Penn and established the Levy Conference Center.
William Mack, W’61, has had a successful career in the family commercial real estate firm the Mack Company, and in 2013 co-founded the Mack Real Estate Group with his sons, Richard and Stephen, both Penn alumni. He was a dedicated University Trustee since 1997, now emeritus, and served as Vice Chair of the Board in addition to chairing several committees, including the Facilities and Campus Planning Committee and the Making History Campaign Steering Committee. In addition, he has served on Penn’s Health System Trustee Board from 2000-2003 and on its Executive Committee. With his wife Phyllis, he is a longtime supporter of the Institute for Contemporary Art and Wharton. In 2001, they established the Mack Center for Technological Innovation, and helped it transition into the William and Phylllis Mack Institute for Innovation Management, with their newest leadership gift helping to establish the Institute’s new home, the Mack Pavilion. (See page 1)
Jayne Davis Perilstein, W’80, founded Students Helping Students, a peer mentoring program, during her time at Penn. Now, she continues to honor Penn through a personal peer leadership model as an alumna. She is a member of the Wharton Committee of the Alumni Affairs Mentor Program and co-chaired the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women, its Philadelphia Regional Events and Programming Committees before becoming TPCW chair in 2012. Ms. Perilstein is a member of the Alumni Class Leadership Council, and currently serves as class president and chair of both the gift and reunion committees for the Class of 1980. She and her husband Ronald P. Perilstein, W’80, were partners in The Arjay Group Inc., the insurance brokerage he founded. She then ran an event planning firm before joining the Shoah Foundation in 2012.
Ehsan “Nanau”El-Tahry Zayan, CW’73, had a successful career in finance that took her to New York, Cairo, London and beyond. Throughout her career and following her retirement, she has been active in club activities and founded the Penn and Wharton Bermuda Alumni Association, when her job took her to Bermuda in 1992. She has served on Penn Museum’s Board of Overseers and the Penn Alumni Board of Directors, and currently participates in the International Advisory Board of the Huntsman Program and the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women. Honoring Penn’s impact on her life, Ms. El-Tahry Zayan established two endowed scholarships: The Mac El Tahry Scholarship Fund and the M.M.A. Zayan/M. El-Tahry Memorial Endowed Scholarship, named for family members.
Creative Spirit Award
Jonathan “Jon” Avnet, C’71, received the 2016 Creative Spirit Award for his lifelong commitment to and excellence in the arts. Mr. Avnet is a writer, director or producer of more than 70 films, TV shows and theater productions.
His motion pictures, TV movies and Broadway plays include the 1983 blockbuster Risky Business, plus Black Swan, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Burning Bed, Spamalot and History Boys, among others.
Mr. Avnet has supported the arts at Penn as a donor, leader and mentor. He has served as an Arts & Sciences Overseer since 2002, and established the Avnet Screenwriting Fund bringing visiting screenwriters to teach on campus. He has also been a regular guest at the Kelly Writers House and a dedicated mentor and industry resource, offering Penn students sponsored internships at his film company, Brooklyn Films.
Young Alumni Award
Lauren Hedvat, earned dual degrees in engineering and economics in 2005 and 2006, then a master’s degree at SEAS. She is currently capital markets director at Angel Oak Capital Advisors following positions at Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital and Goldman Sachs. As a young alumna, she has continued to show leadership skills established at Penn serving on the Young Alumni Committee of the Penn Club of New York and chairing her fifth and tenth reunions, helping to achieve record-breaking attendance and winning the David N. Tyre Class Communications Award. Along with her siblings, Ms. Hedvat also created the Hedvat Ijadi Family Scholarship at Penn in 2012.
Class & Club Recognition Awards
The Class of 1986 received the Class Award of Merit, its second win; the first was in 2011. This year’s win was for its remarkable outreach, leadership, creativity, teamwork, organization and innovative programming that led to exceptional results for its 30th reunion. The class strategy resulted in record-breaking attendance for the reunion of 421 alumni and reunion gift of nearly $6 million.
The Class of 1966 received the David N. Tyre Award for Excellence in Class Communications for its use of various platforms ranging from music and video to print and social media to connect with classmates concerning its 50th reunion. The campaign resulted in 328 attendees, and together members of the class gave more than $5 million across the University.
The Penn Alumni Club of Washington DC received the 2016 Club Award of Merit. This year the club attracted new members and engaged others through more than 40 creative events, including “a sneak peek” at the National Museum of African American History; hikes; and happy hours and collaboration with affinity groups including PennGALA, representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender alumni, and the Black Alumni Society.