FDA Approves Personalized Cellular Therapy Developed by Penn and CHOP for Advanced Leukemia

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
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Carl June

Carl June

Stephan Grupp

Stephan Grupp

In a landmark decision for the field of cancer immunotherapy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a personalized cellular therapy at the end of August. It was developed by the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for the treatment of patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is refractory or in second or later relapse. The approval was granted to Novartis for the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, Kymriah™ (tisagenlecleucel, formerly CTL019). In 2012, Penn and Novartis entered into a global collaboration to further research, develop and commercialize Kymriah and other CAR-T cell therapies for the treatment of cancers. Kymriah is the first therapy based on gene transfer approved by the FDA.

Investigators at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and CHOP, who together led research, development and clinical trials of the new therapy in collaboration with Novartis, hailed the FDA’s approval as a game changer for the treatment of younger patients battling the aggressive blood cancer and a pivotal milestone in this new era of cellular therapies that treat cancer with a patient’s own immune system.

“This is a turning point in the fight against B-cell ALL that opens up opportunities for patients across the world who desperately need new options,” said Carl H. June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center.

“We’re excited and proud to have moved this CAR therapy, in collaboration with Novartis and CHOP, through all phases of development and clinical trials, established its efficacy, and now extended its reach to children across the country under this FDA approval,” Dr. June added. “We hope the momentum behind the technology builds as we continue to investigate the abilities of personalized cellular therapeutics in blood cancers and solid tumors to help patients with many other types of cancer.”

Kymriah is expected to be available through a network of certified treatment centers throughout the United States.

“We delivered engineered T-cell therapy at CHOP for the first pediatric patient in the world, Emily Whitehead, who was only six years old when her leukemia stopped responding to conventional treatments. Emily’s cancer remains in remission, and in larger trials, we’re seeing overall remission rates over 80 percent, which is a remarkable improvement upon previous treatment success rates,” said lead investigator of the CHOP and global trials of the therapy, Stephan A. Grupp, the Yetta Deitch Novotny Professor of Pediatrics at Penn and director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program and chief of the section of Cell Therapy and Transplant at CHOP.

The new treatment modifies patients’ own immune T cells, which are collected and reprogrammed at the Novartis manufacturing facility to potentially seek and destroy the patients’ leukemia cells. After being infused back into patients’ bodies, these newly built “hunter” cells both multiply and attack, targeting cells that express a protein called CD19. Tests reveal that the army of hunter cells can grow to more than 10,000 new cells for each single engineered cell patients receive, producing high remission rates in completely refractory leukemia­—and can survive in the body for years.

“This transformational therapy for patients is the result of true collaboration between industry, academia, healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers” said Bruno Strigini, CEO, Novartis Oncology. “We thank all those involved in this historic FDA approval, which provides renewed hope to children and young adults who have had limited treatment options thus far.”

CTL019 was first tested at Penn in 2010, in adult patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In 2012, CHOP became the first institution to investigate Kymriah in pediatric patients with ALL, the most common childhood cancer. About 20 percent of the 3,500 pediatric and young adult patients diagnosed every year with ALL in the United States relapse or do not respond to conventional treatment.

Those early-stage clinical trials, in which more than 90 percent of patients achieved a complete remission one month after receiving the therapy, led to a global registration trial in 2015, involving 68 children and young adults with advanced ALL treated at 25 centers across the world. Eighty-three percent of the patients who received a single dose of their own engineered cells achieved a complete remission.

In July 2017, an FDA advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of the therapy, paving the way for the FDA approval. After presentation of trial data and testimony from families whose children have received the therapy, one expert on the panel said this was “the most exciting thing I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Many patients in the ALL trials experienced a side effect called cytokine release syndrome (CRS) including grade 3 or grade 4, which includes varying degrees of flu-like symptoms, with high fevers, nausea, and muscle pain, and temporary neurologic symptoms, including delirium, but also low blood pressure and breathing difficulties requiring ICU-level care in the most severe cases. Eighteen percent of patients experienced grade 3 or grade 4 neurologic events. Patients were treated with the immunosuppressant drug tocilizumab or short courses of steroids to combat the symptoms.

Novartis will create a registry to follow patients for 15 years after being treated to monitor their progress and any potential future side effects.

Other trials with CTL019 therapy are also underway in the Abramson Cancer Center for adult ALL patients and those with CLL and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Penn and Novartis are also investigating the next generation of CAR therapies for multiple myeloma, and for solid tumors, through trials in glioblastoma, mesothelioma, and ovarian and pancreatic cancer. Other CAR trials at Penn are exploring the technique for prostate cancer, melanoma and triple-negative breast cancer.

The Novartis-Penn Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics (CACT) opened in 2016 and hosted Vice President Joe Biden at the launch of his Cancer Moonshot initiative (Almanac January 26, 2016), cementing Penn’s role as an international innovator in the development and manufacturing of personalized cellular therapies.

Additional leaders of the research include Penn’s David Porter, the Jodi Fisher Horowitz Professor in Leukemia Care Excellence and director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation in the ACC; Noelle Frey, an assistant professor of hematology-oncology; Bruce Levine, the Barbara and Edward Netter Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine; Michael Milone, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine; and CHOP pediatric oncologist Shannon Maude, an assistant professor of pediatrics.

Adult patients who are interested in T cell therapies at Penn Medicine can call (215) 316-5127 for more information. 

For information about the Cancer Immunotherapy Program at CHOP, please call (267) 426-0762.

Editor’s Note: The University of Pennsylvania has licensed some technologies involved in these studies to Novartis. Some of the scientists involved in these trials are inventors of these technologies. As a result of the licensing relationship with Novartis, the University of Pennsylvania receives significant financial benefit, and some of these inventors have benefitted financially and/or may benefit financially in the future.

Statement from Penn President Amy Gutmann on the Repeal of DACA

  • September 12, 2017
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Amy Gutmann

Amy Gutmann

September 5, 2017

This is a heartbreaking day for our country. President Trump’s decision to repeal the DACA program threatens hundreds of thousands of young people who were raised in America, love this country and are an integral part of the American Dream. We know the Dreamers to be gifted and successful students who have grown up in our communities, attended our schools, and who are poised to make vital contributions to our nation’s economic strength, creativity, and global competitiveness. The repeal of DACA will mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic growth over the next decade. In addition, the direct impact of repeal and deportation will cost tens of billions of dollars. Because this is a matter of grave urgency for our country, I respectfully call upon Congress to act promptly to pass bipartisan legislation to permanently protect the Dreamers. This is both the humane and wise thing to do.

At Penn, we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students and we will do everything we can to support and assist the Dream Act students who are valued members of our community.

US News Rankings

  • September 12, 2017
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In the newly released 2018 US News & World Report rankings of colleges and universities, Penn is once again ranked eighth overall among national universities.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has retained its #1 post as the best undergraduate business program in the country, which it has held for many years. It is also ranked #1 in four specialties: finance, insurance/risk management, marketing and real estate; it ranked #2 in three specialties: international business, management and production/operations management; #3 in quantitative analysis/methods; #4 in accounting and #5 in entrepreneurship. 

Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science was listed #25 (tied with Harvard, University of Maryland-College Park, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and University of Southern California) for engineering schools whose highest degree is a doctorate.

Penn made the list of national universities with the largest proportion of international undergraduate students in the 2016-2017 academic year with 12 percent.

Reappointment of Vice Provost for Research Dawn Bonnell

  • September 12, 2017
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Provost Wendell Pritchett announces the reappointment of Vice Provost for Research Dawn Bonnell, who was initially appointed to a five-year term in 2013 (Almanac July 16, 2013). 

“As I begin my tenure as Provost,” said Provost Pritchett, “I am delighted that Dawn Bonnell has agreed to extend her service to the Penn community. A pioneer in nanotechnology and the founding director of Penn’s Nano/Bio Interface Center, Dawn is one of our most vital and admired research leaders. Over the past four years, her leadership and vision have driven enormous progress in this essential area of our mission. She has worked across the University in establishing the Penn Center for Innovation, developing the Pennovation Center, and supporting the evolution of Pennovation Works, which are central to fostering innovation at Penn—and across the entire Philadelphia region. She has led our parallel efforts to diversify the University’s research portfolio, creating stronger partnerships with industry, seeding emerging research areas, and encouraging startups and spinouts that bring the impact of Penn research to a wide public audience.”

Vice Provost Bonnell is the Henry Robinson Towne Professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. As Vice Provost for Research, she develops and implements policies that promote research excellence across the University; manages key elements of the University’s research infrastructure, including grant administration and research compliance; and guides the strategic efforts of the University in advancing research commercialization. She also serves as a champion for the research enterprise at Penn, leading research collaborations across Schools, exploring new areas for research and representing Penn to local, regional and national constituencies.  

Report of the Ad Hoc Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Provost

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The Ad Hoc Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Provost was convened by President Amy Gutmann on December 14, 2016. During its four months of work, the full Committee met on 10 occasions and reported its recommendations to the President on April 13, 2017. The Committee members were:


J. Larry Jameson, Executive Vice President of the University for the Health System, Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, and Robert G. Dunlop Professor, PSOM


Sigal Ben-Porath, Professor, Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division, GSE

Ezekiel Dixon-Román, Associate Professor, SP2

Julie Fairman, Nightingale Professor in Nursing; Chair, Biobehavioral Health Sciences Department; Director Emerita, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing; Co-Director, RWJF Future of  Nursing Scholars Program, Nursing

Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, Chair and Professor of Pathology, SDM

Carolina Lopez, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Vet

Michael McGarvey, Associate Professor of Neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, PSOM

Katherine Milkman, Associate Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, Wharton

Eve Troutt Powell, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of History and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, SAS

Santosh Venkatesh, Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, SEAS, and Chair-Elect, Faculty Senate

Melissa Wilde, Associate Professor of Sociology, SAS

Christopher Yoo, John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science, Law; Director, Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition, Law School 


Kat McKay, C’17 (President of the Undergraduate Assembly)

Gaurav Shukla, student in the Master of Medical Physics Program, SAS (President of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly)

Jane Xiao, C’17 (External Chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education)

Fan (Alex) Yang, doctoral candidate, SEAS (Vice President of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly)

Ex Officio

Joann Mitchell, Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

The search was supported by Adam P. Michaels, Deputy Chief of Staff in the President’s Office, and John Isaacson, John Muckle and Gregory Esposito of the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller.

The Committee and its consultants conducted informational interviews and consultative meetings with individuals and groups throughout the Penn community, as well as many informal contacts, in order to better understand the scope, expectations, and challenges of the Provost’s position and the opportunities facing the University in the years ahead.  These consultative activities included full Committee meetings with Provost Vincent Price; Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli; Vice Provosts Anita Allen, Dawn Bonnell, Ezekiel Emanuel, Valarie Ena Swain-Cade McCoullum, Carton Rogers, and Beth Winkelstein; Dean of Admissions Eric Furda; Director of the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics M. Grace Calhoun; and Williams Director of the Penn Museum Julian Siggers. In addition, the Chair and the Committee members held open meetings for faculty and staff. The consultants interviewed administrators throughout the Provost’s Center and dozens of individuals and groups in the Penn community and sought nominations from presidents, provosts, and deans across the nation and the world as well as from leaders in government, foundations, academic societies and other organizations. Finally, members of the Committee engaged in extensive networking with Penn faculty and students, as well as colleagues at other institutions. The Committee also solicited advice and nominations from all Penn faculty, Deans, and senior administrators via email, and reviewed a variety of documents about the University. 

Based upon these conversations and materials, the Committee’s charge from the President, and the Committee’s own discussions, a comprehensive document was prepared outlining the scope of the position and the challenges a new Provost will face, as well as the qualities sought in a new Provost. The vacancy was announced and input invited from the entire Penn community (Almanac January 10, 2016). 

The Committee sought candidates with an uncompromising commitment to academic excellence, impeccable academic judgment, distinguished academic credentials and experience, and a steadfast and unwavering ethical compass. Candidates were asked to demonstrate a track record of achievement as an energetic, strong, and collaborative leader and administrator, providing evidence of a capacity to lead Penn’s academic enterprise in pursuit of the University’s highest priorities as articulated in Penn Compact 2020. The Committee sought evidence of candidates’ commitment to diversity in all its forms (i.e., racial, gender, socio-economic, intellectual, methodological, disciplinary, etc.). Evidence was also sought of success as an interdisciplinary thinker and to realizing Penn’s unique opportunities to advance the integration of knowledge through collaborative activities across traditional scholarly and institutional boundaries. Other key criteria included being a strategic, visionary and entrepreneurial leader with a proven ability to advance innovative understanding and discovery; a global outlook, with a strong commitment to leading efforts to strengthen Penn’s strategic engagement with local, national and international communities; an articulate, enthusiastic and effective communicator with the highest aspirations for Penn’s standing and reputation; and a commitment, ability and desire to broadly engage the University community, collaborate with the President, the Deans, and the faculty, staff and students, and function as a key member of the University’s senior management team.

Over the course of its four-month search process, the Committee and its consultants contacted and considered more than 160 individuals for the position. From these, the Committee selected 12 individuals for semi-finalist interviews with the entire Committee. Based on voluntary self-identifications and other sources, we believe the initial pool of 163 applicants, candidates, and nominees contained 56 women and 107 men, and 21 African-Americans and nine Latinos. The six individuals recommended for consideration to the President included one African-American and one woman and were selected from this group of 12 semi-finalists.

On April 26, 2017, President Gutmann announced the selection of Dr. Wendell Pritchett, Gr’97, as Provost. Dr. Pritchett is a celebrated teacher and scholar of urban policy, education, civil rights and race relations, an accomplished leader and administrator, and a passionate advocate for academic excellence and civic engagement. He assumed his office on July 1, 2017 after ratification by the Trustees at their June meeting.

—J. Larry Jameson, Chair of the Ad Hoc Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Provost 

Ellen Neises: Executive Director of PennPraxis

  • September 12, 2017
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Ellen Neises

Ellen Neises

Frederick Steiner, dean and Paley Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, has appointed Ellen Neises, GLA’02, to be the executive director of PennPraxis, the center for applied research, outreach and practice at the School. Ms. Neises is an adjunct associate professor in the department of landscape architecture at PennDesign and principal at RANGE, a landscape architecture and public policy practice.

Former director Randall Mason, associate professor of city and regional planning and chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, will remain active in the development of PennPraxis and its many projects as a senior fellow.

“Randy brought serious engagement with issues of equity and inclusion to our School, along with meaningful new research opportunities for students and faculty,” said Dean Steiner. 

“I’m extremely proud of what PennPraxis has accomplished these past three years,” said Dr. Mason. “I look forward to working with Ellen as she expands PennPraxis’s advancement of social impact, collaborative practice and cutting-edge research.”

Ms. Neises said, “PennDesign is unique among art, design and planning schools to have a platform to demonstrate the power of design to solve problems and advance the kind of complex, community-engaged projects that I’m excited about—ones where we begin by helping define the opportunity, convene the right mix of creative thinkers to engage the ongoing debate, and generate options that are both strategic and imaginative. Through PennPraxis, faculty and students can collaborate on live projects that open up potentials for discussion and evaluation by multiple means and audiences, and we can translate ideas and community agendas shaped in this way, into strong prototypes and built places, research and policy solutions with big effects.” 

Ms. Neises began as executive director on August 14, as PennPraxis launched A Year of Community-Engaged Design.

During Dr. Mason’s tenure, working in conjunction with managing director Julie Donofrio, PennPraxis strengthened its ties to Philadelphia institutions while expanding the organization’s reach globally. It published ambitious reports such as Civic Infrastructure: A Model for Civic Asset Reinvestment (funded by the William Penn Foundation), worked with numerous partners in the local Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative (funded by the Knight Foundation and William Penn Foundation, and organized by the Fairmount Park Conservancy), and a study of the inaugural Philly Free Streets event (with Open Streets PHL and the Knight Foundation). Praxis Dialogues convened policy makers, business leaders and community organizers in a series of public events to encourage debate on civic issues with national implications in partnership with PlanPhilly; student-led Social Impact Projects, funded by PennPraxis, supported PennDesign students’ work with area nonprofits like North Philly Peace Park, the Please Touch Museum, and Southeast by Southeast to strengthen communities directly. Internationally, Dr. Mason led a conservation and training project on genocide memorials in Rwanda, and helped launch faculty-led projects in Italy and Kuwait.

A PennDesign alumna and member of the faculty since 2011, Ms. Neises specializes in areas where both physical design and policy design are needed to advance major initiatives such as climate adaptation, sustainability of high-yield production agriculture, and quality of life and economic strength of industrial and environmental justice communities. Her firm, RANGE, and Philadelphia-based firm PORT Urbanism, were recently selected by the Regional Plan Association (RPA) to develop landscape infrastructure and design strategies for the 200-mile rural belt around the New York City metro area. With Richard Roark of OLIN, Ms. Neises led the PennDesign/OLIN team’s work on Hunts Point Lifelines, one of the six winning entries in the 2014 Rebuild by Design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop contextual, scalable solutions to rebuild, protect and improve cities and towns hit by Hurricane Sandy. Her work in Pennsylvania includes an ongoing partnership with 10 municipalities and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to transform the 22-square mile Slate Belt through nature-based place making and economic development strategies.

Prior to coming to teach at Penn, Ms. Neises was an associate partner at James Corner Field Operations, where she helped build an international landscape architecture and urban design practice. Before earning a Master of Landscape Architecture from PennDesign in 2002, she worked for nine years on economic development, criminal justice and labor policy in New York, Alabama and Delaware. She holds a BS from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

PennPraxis will continue to be co-led by managing director Ms. Donofrio. Also a PennDesign alumna, Ms. Donofrio assumed her role in July of 2015 and has been instrumental in shaping the current mission-driven direction of PennPraxis, leading several of its Philadelphia-based projects, overseeing the student-generated Social Impact Projects, and guiding all programming and communications. Ms. Donofrio will continue this role, working in concert with Ms. Neises, managing office operations, local partnerships, and promoting engagement both within the School and with external partners.

Erin G. Cross: Director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center

  • September 12, 2017
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Erin Cross

Erin Cross

Erin G. Cross has been named director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cross begins the new role September 13 upon the retirement of Robert Schoenberg, the Center’s inaugural director who spent 35 years serving and supporting Penn’s LGBTQ+ community. Dr. Cross has worked at the LGBT Center since 1998, most recently as the senior associate director.

Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said that Dr. Cross’ appointment “is the very embodiment of Penn President Amy Gutmann’s core tenets in Penn Compact 2020, as Dr. Cross will, with LGBT Center partners, continue to embrace its world-class mission: ‘To innovate, be radically inclusive and positively impact our local, national and global communities.’”

“I am thrilled to continue my career as director of the LGBT Center, my professional home,” Dr. Cross said. “Advising students, advocating for meaningful change, and building bridges across the Penn community have been, and will continue to be, my highest priorities. The LGBT Center is a welcoming space, a safe space, and an enduring space for all who enter.”

“I look forward to seeing Erin take on more leadership within a Center she helped build,” added Hikaru (Karu) Kozuma, associate vice provost for student affairs. “I am truly excited to work with her and continue the work to support the LGBT community at Penn.”

Dr. Cross also serves as a house fellow in Stouffer College House and a Pre-Major Advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is a certified domestic violence/interpersonal violence advocate and an advisor for the Office of the Sexual Violence Investigative Officer. 

At Penn, Dr. Cross has taught graduate-level classes on gender and sexuality in the Graduate School of Education. Her academic work includes serving as co-investigator on research projects including the Fels Institute’s Working Group on Policies Affecting LGBTQ Youth and Families and the Provost Office’s Inclusion of LGBTQ Students and Topics in Professional Education. She earned a PhD from Penn’s Graduate School of Education, a master’s in political science from Penn State University, and a bachelor’s in history and political science from the College of Wooster.


Nicholas Moya, Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Student

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
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Nicholas Moya

Nicholas Moya

Nicholas A. Moya, a senior at University of Pennsylvania majoring in math and economics, died suddenly on August 31. He was 21 years old.

Mr. Moya, of Villanova, was a former president of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity who served as a data analyst for Penn’s men’s basketball team, volunteered with the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project and was a tour guide for the Kite & Key Society.

He is survived by his parents, Ruth Sanell and Mario Moya; his brothers, Samuel and Mario; and grandparents, Dinah Morales and John and Elsie Sanell.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Kyle Ambrogi Foundation at


University Council Coverage

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
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Last Wednesday, Reed E. Pyeritz, the William Smilow Professor of Medicine and Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine, served as the acting moderator for the first Council meeting of the new academic year, and Therese (Terry) Richmond, the Andrea B. Laporte Professor of Nursing and associate dean for research and innovation at the Penn School of Nursing, was appointed moderator for the year ahead. Lauren Steinfeld, Penn Medicine’s chief privacy officer and Penn’s senior advisor for privacy in Audit, Compliance and Privacy, was appointed parliamentarian for her fifth year.

President Amy Gutmann spoke about the recent announcement concerning phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She called President Donald Trump’s decision a “heartbreaking development” that violates the core principles as a University community and a nation. She said that the “Dreamers” are an integral part of the Penn community and Penn will support a safe and welcoming community.

Provost Wendell Pritchett added that Penn will ensure that DACA recipients continue to receive financial aid, fellowship stipends and related support; Penn will protect the students’ privacy. The office of the VPUL will host an information session on Thursday, September 14, noon-1:30 p.m. in Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall. He also encouraged students to take advantage of the many resource centers and support services across the University.

Santosh Venkatesh, chair of the Council Steering Committee, announced the four focus issues for the 2017-2018 academic year: Athletics and Extracurricular Activities (December); Diversity and Inclusion (January); Penn Connects 3.0 (February) and Multidisciplinary Approaches to Tackling the World’s Most Pressing Challenges (March). He also announced that there will be two meetings with an Open Forum: December and February.

There was a suggestion from the Undergraduate Assembly to expand the scope of the Campus and Community Life Committee Charge to be proactive and not just reactive in monitoring mental health services.

There was a presentation on the current Theme Year, the Year of Innovation. David Fox, director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, said that new technology was used to read the Penn Reading Project (PRP) book, The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, online in reading groups this year.  This is the 27th year of the PRP for incoming students and the 11th Theme Year. Mr. Fox said that there will be programming throughout the academic year pertaining to innovation. He then announced the PRP 2018 book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey and theme for the 2018-2019 academic year, The Year of Why. 


Of RECORD: Notice Regarding U.S. Government Policy Against Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Policies
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The policy regarding human trafficking and forced labor as it relates to research became effective September 1 and reflects a federal requirement impacting principal investigators with contracts and/or subcontracts outside the U.S.

Dawn Bonnell, Vice Provost for Research
—MaryFrances McCourt, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer

Sponsored Program Policy 2142: The University of Pennsylvania’s Notice Regarding U.S. Government Policy Against Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

The U.S. government has adopted a policy prohibiting human trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labor and trafficking-related activities. As a recipient of federal funds from grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts (collectively, “awards”), the University of Pennsylvania is obligated to inform its employees, agents, independent contractors and subrecipients performing awards, regarding the U.S. government’s policy. The University of Pennsylvania opposes human trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor, which are inherently harmful and contrary to the University’s core values, and which may violate applicable foreign, U.S., state and/or local laws.  

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking (or “trafficking in persons” as used in the U.S. government policy) includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of persons through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. It also includes sex trafficking, and inducing a commercial sex act by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform a commercial sex act is under 18 years old. (Definitions of other relevant terms used in the policy are set forth in the U.S. government’s regulations implementing its policy, available at 2 C.F.R. § 175.15 [for grants and cooperative agreements] and 48 C.F.R. § 52.222-50 [for federally-funded contracts].)

What is Prohibited?

The University, its employees, agents and independent contractors, and its subrecipients of federal funds (and their respective employees), are prohibited from the following:

  • Engaging in human trafficking or sex trafficking, or procuring commercial sex acts, during the award period; 
  • Using forced labor to perform the award;
  • Destroying, concealing, confiscating, or otherwise denying access to an individual’s identity or immigration documents; 
  • Using misleading or fraudulent practices about the recruitment process for work on a project outside the U.S., such as failing to disclose, in a format and language accessible to the potential worker, key terms and conditions of the engagement, such as wages and fringe benefits, work location, living conditions, housing costs, and any hazardous nature of the work;
  • Using recruiters that do not comply with local labor laws in the countries in which recruiting takes place;
  • Charging recruitment fees to the individuals recruited to work on the award;
  • Providing or arranging housing that fails to meet host country housing and safety standards;  
  • If required by law or contract, failing to provide an employment contract, recruitment agreement, or similar work paper in writing in the employee’s native language prior to the employee departing from his or her country of origin to work on the contract in another country; and
  • Under certain circumstances, failing to supply return transportation, or payment for return transportation, at the conclusion of the work, if the worker is not a national of the country in which the work occurs and was brought into the country to work on the federal award.

Responsibilities of the Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director

It is primarily the responsibility of the PI who receives the award to ensure compliance with the U.S. government policy and to take the actions outlined below. Specifically, the PI and his/her Business Administrator shall: 

  • Notify individuals working on the project of:
    • The U.S. Government’s policy regarding trafficking in persons;
    • The actions that may be taken against individuals for violations of the policy, which may include, without limitation, removal from the award or other disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment; and
    • The requirement to notify the University’s Associate Vice Provost for Research Services or the University Institutional Compliance Officer immediately of any information received from any source (including host country law enforcement) that alleges an employee, agent, independent contractor, or subrecipient (or employee of such subrecipient) has engaged in, or may have engaged in, conduct that violates the policy.

In addition, if the federal award is a contract (i.e., not a grant or cooperative agreement), the PI and his/her Business Administrator also shall:

  • Prior to engaging any non-U.S. citizen to work on the project outside the United States, contact Penn Global Support Services (GSS), your Human Resources contact person, and the University’s Office of Research Services (ORS) to ensure that recruitment, wages, and housing procedures are in accordance with the U.S. government’s policy.

Compliance Plans

Federal law requires that an anti-trafficking compliance plan be in place for any federal contract and subcontract where supplies are acquired outside the United States, or services will be performed outside the United States, and the estimated value of the supplies and/or services outside of the United States exceeds $500,000. For such contracts and subcontracts, the PI, with assistance from his/her Business Administrator and the University’s Office of Research Services, is responsible for creating a compliance plan specific to the project and local circumstances that complies with the federal requirements. In addition, the PI will be required to make annual certifications to research administration for the duration of the project, certifying that to the best of the PI’s knowledge and belief, none of the employees, agents, independent contractors, or subcontractors has been engaged in human trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labor, or other trafficking-related activities prohibited by the U.S. government policy, and that the PI has reported any known purported activities within the University. The University’s Office of Research Services maintains a template Compliance Plan to assist PIs and Business Administrators develop any required plan tailored to the performance of the specific federal contract. The PI and his/her Business Administrator are responsible for sending the final, compliant Compliance Plan to the University Office of Research Services, and publicly posting the plan, if required by law or the award.

Reporting Resources

Always contact 911 or local law enforcement if you or someone else is in immediate danger. In addition, all University employees, agents and independent contractors must notify one of the following, if they become aware of any credible information alleging human trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labor, or other violations of the policy:

  • 1-215-P-COMPLY (1-215-726-6759) or 
  • (the University’s Reporting and Help Line)
  • Associate Vice Provost for Research Services, (215) 898-7293
  • Executive Director of Penn Global Support Services, (215) 898-4665

The University prohibits retaliation against an individual who makes a good faith report of suspected wrongful conduct pursuant to this policy and notice.

For More Information

Individuals may contact the Global Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-844-888-FREE or To read more about the U.S. government policy applicable to individuals working on grants and cooperative agreements, please review 22 U.S.C. §7104(g) and 2 CFR §175.15.  To read more about the U.S. government policy applicable to individuals working on a federal contract, please review 48 CFR 52.222-50. 


Celebrating LDI’s 50th Anniversary

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Features
  • print

Origins of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

LDI PECO lights

LDI’s message went up on the PECO Building’s Crown Lights earlier this summer and will intermittently be displayed through October.

Colonial Penn Center

The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics is headquartered in the Colonial Penn Center at 3641 Locust Walk. The building is so named after Leonard Davis, who in 1967 agreed to fund both LDI’s creation as well as purchase and refurbish the campus building. Mr. Davis was the CEO of the Colonial Penn Insurance Group as well as the founder of AARP.


LDI’s 50th Anniversary banners are in place on the Walnut Street lamp poles from 37th to 34th Street.

With a gift from Leonard and Sophie Davis, the University of Pennsylvania established the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) in 1967, two years after Congress enacted Medicare. It was created to fill fundamental gaps in the evidence base that could inform policies critical to the financing and management of the nation’s increasingly costly and complex health care system. Today, LDI is considered one of the world’s leading university-based programs of its kind.

LDI and its senior fellows are among the pioneers in interdisciplinary health services research and have helped guide health policies at all levels of government and the private sector. More than 200 LDI senior fellows work to improve the health of the public through studies on the medical, economic and social issues that influence how health care is organized, financed, managed and delivered.

LDI is one of the first university programs to successfully cultivate collaborative scholarship among typically disparate disciplines. LDI is a cooperative venture among Penn’s health professions, business and communications schools (Medicine, Wharton, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Law School and Annenberg School for Communication) and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with linkages to other Penn schools, including Arts & Sciences, Education, Social Policy & Practice and Veterinary Medicine.

Mr. Davis, who died in 2001 at the age of 76, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Penn in 1972 (Almanac January 30, 2001). 

LDI Leadership

Robert D. Eilers, founding director of LDI, emphasized the Institute’s educational component. He created an MBA major in 1970, which was the first MBA program in health care management. He later added undergraduate and doctoral concentrations in order to train managers and analysts of health care systems. Dr. Eilers consulted with the Nixon Administration and helped draft the HMO bill that passed in 1973. 

LDI’s other past executive directors included: Samuel P. Martin III, 1974-1978; William P. Pierskalla, 1978-1983; John C. Hershey, 1983-1984; Mark V. Pauly, 1984-1989; J. Sanford Schwartz, 1989-1998; and David A. Asch, 1998-2012. Daniel E. Polsky has led LDI since 2012.

Dr. John Eisenberg was founding chief of Penn’s Division of Internal Medicine, 1978-91 and was one of the first Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars at Penn. In 1997 he became director of the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and shepherded its transition to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as it is known today.

LDI Highlights

In 1976, LDI established the National Health Care Management Center, the first federally funded research center devoted to the management and organization of health care. 

LDI hosted the Philadelphia Commission on AIDS in 1987 to help address Philadelphia’s growing AIDS crisis.

LDI launched the Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) pipeline program in 1999 to address health disparities. 

In 2008, the Institute founded the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, one of just two NIH-funded centers dedicated to behavioral economic research in health. 

LDI contributed to the UPHS Center for Innovation in Health Care Financing, which test how insights from behavioral economics and health economics can improve patient health and reduce the rate of growth in health care costs in 2011.

In 2012, LDI was involved in the establishment of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, which develops and tests new health care delivery strategies for better outcomes and value.

Today, LDI hosts 250 senior fellows and receives $100 million annually in research grants. LDI researchers publish more than 800 articles in peer-reviewed journals each year. LDI focuses on four key areas: improving health care delivery, optimizing insurance markets, motivating healthy behaviors and reaching vulnerable populations.

LDI forms collaborations to work toward measurable results, with organizations ranging from universities to companies to the federal government. It also provides seed funding to help launch early research careers.

LDI’s motto is: Research to Improve the Nation’s Health System: Theory Driven; Data Tested; Policy Focused

50th Anniversary Symposium 

LDI is Penn’s hub of health system-related research, policy analysis and education. Penn LDI’s 50th Anniversary Symposium, Shaping the Future of Health Care will be held on campus on October 5-6. Two Penn LDI alumni: Katrina Armstrong and Patrick Conway, who have been ‘firsts’ in their fields, will receive the John M. Eisenberg Pioneer Award. LDI alumni social events will be held on October 4. Symposium registration includes the 50th Anniversary Dinner Celebration on October 5. The event will include a celebration in which former LDI executive director Mark Pauly will be honored for his career of scholarship and mentorship.

LDI is highlighting the pioneering people, events and publications that marked turning points in its history and in health policy on Twitter using the hashtag #PennLDI50.

For information, visit the symposium homepage.

Announcing the PRP and Year of Why as Theme Year 2018-2019

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Features
  • print

Provost Wendell Pritchett, Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein, the Council of Undergraduate Deans, and the Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives are pleased to announce that Thornton Wilder’s novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey will be the 2018 Penn Reading Project, launching the 2018-2019 Academic Theme Year: The Year of Why.

book covers old and new

Above left, the original cover of the 1927 book and, above right, the current edition of the novel.

Penn Reading Project

Now in its 28th year, the Penn Reading Project (PRP) was created as an introduction for incoming students to academic life at Penn. During New Student Orientation, the entire first-year class gathers in small groups with Penn faculty and senior academic administrators for a discussion of the same common text. Past Penn Reading Project books have included Langston Hughes’ The Big Sea, Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes, John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia—as well as Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane and Thomas Eakins’ painting The Gross Clinic.

All Penn faculty are encouraged to consider courses that incorporate The Bridge of San Luis Rey, the works of Thornton Wilder, and The Year of Why, whether by developing new courses or augmenting existing courses to be offered in the 2018-2019 academic year.  

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder today is chiefly remembered for two plays, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, which define a sense of community and responsibility. But a decade before, his 1927 novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, won a Pulitzer Prize and established Mr. Wilder as one of the most eloquent and philosophical of American writers. Though scarcely more than 100 pages, The Bridge of San Luis Rey is exceptionally rich in ideas and poetry.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey is the first novel chosen for Penn Reading Project in 15 years. It famously begins, “On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” What follows in this fictional history is an examination of the lives of each of these travelers, initiated by a local monk, Brother Juniper, who seeks to understand why such a terrible thing could happen. (Although Mr. Wilder was born and bred in the United States, the South American setting of Bridge is something he took very seriously, and he writes vividly about Peru and its culture.) For Brother Juniper, this is, in part, a religious question—for Mr. Wilder and his readers, it may be more broadly philosophical. 

From its first publication, The Bridge of San Luis Rey was recognized as a major work. Reviewing the book in 1927 in The New York Times, John Carter praised Mr. Wilder’s “exquisite style and colorful substance” and ultimately concluded that Bridge “is a metaphysical study of love: the love of mother for daughter, of brother for brother, of philanthropy, love of God, and love of art, in the light of a single catastrophe.”

Today, The Bridge of San Luis Rey remains a favorite work of critics, American literature scholars and other writers. In his preface for the current edition, contemporary novelist Russell Banks—a longtime admirer of Mr. Wilder’s work—calls Bridge “as close to perfect a moral fable as we are ever likely to get in American literature” and said, “It lives on because it celebrates our conflicted, contradictory, eternal human nature, our essential humanity.” Mr. Banks closes his commentary by quoting the last lines of the novel and reminding us that they were spoken by Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, at a memorial service for the victims of 9/11:

We ourselves shall be loved for a while and then forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

 The Year of Why 

The fundamental action of Bridge is Brother Juniper’s search to answer an unanswerable question—why does tragedy occur? For Mr. Wilder, the question has its foundation in belief and philosophy, but it can be equally pertinent in any number of other contexts. The search for “why?” is foundational in every aspect of education.  

The Year of Why—as with all Academic Theme Years—invites examination and discussion across disciplines. Programming will be encouraged across all Penn’s schools and centers. 

Recommendations for Future Penn Reading Project Books and Theme Years

Penn Reading Projects and Academic Theme Years are selected by the Office of the Provost and the Council of Undergraduate Deans from nominations by members of the Penn community. All current Penn students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in the process at Penn Reading Project and Theme Year Suggestions.

The PRP text should be an outstanding work that will form the basis for a lively discussion. PRP texts can be fiction or nonfiction, historical or contemporary. They can also be films, musical compositions and other works of art. When you submit your suggested text, explain why you think it will make a good PRP—and also suggest a theme year topic that arises from it. These topics should be broad in scope (e.g. Year of Innovation, Year of Media, Year of Proof) and encourage interdisciplinary exploration across all Penn Schools and Centers. Submissions can be made at any time, and will be reviewed by a nomination committee as they are submitted. 

For More Information

The Penn Reading Project 2018/The Bridge of San Luis Rey will take place in late August 2018 on a date to be arranged. Programming for the Year of Why can take place throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, with opportunities for grant funding opening online in June 2018.  

For more information, please contact: David Fox, director of New Student Orientation & Academic Initiatives.



  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Events
  • print

Opening September 13, at 6:30 p.m., the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) will present Nathalie Du Pasquier:BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT,’ a retrospective exploring the prolific creative practice of artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier. A founding member of the Italian design collective Memphis, Ms. Du Pasquier’s work across painting, sculpture, drawing, installation and design demonstrates a unique and considered interpretation of space and objects. The exhibition at ICA is co-curated by Alex Klein, the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE ’60) Curator at ICA; and Luca Lo Pinto, curator at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria, where the first iteration of the retrospective was initially conceived and presented by Mr. Lo Pinto last fall. 

Featuring more than 100 works spanning from the early 1980s to the present, including a number of new and never-before-seen pieces, the exhibition juxtaposes graphic patterns with abstracted, figurative paintings, creating a fully immersive environment that underscores the artist’s systematic dismantling of the hierarchy between design and fine art, and between three-dimensional form and two-dimensional representation. 

Nathalie Du Pasquier: ‘BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT’ which is on view through December 23, will provide an all-encompassing experience of Ms. Du Pasquier’s aesthetic, organized in close coordination with the artist to demonstrate the seamless boundaries between functional and decorative objects in Ms. Du Pasquier’s practice. Across the space, still-life paintings depicting everyday objects and formal explorations will be installed against a backdrop of Ms. Du Pasquier’s wallpaper designs, juxtaposed with the sculptures, textiles and design objects that inspire her work in painting and illuminate her iterative process of creation. 

“We are thrilled to present the first comprehensive international survey of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s work in the United States,” commented Mr. Klein. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to work closely both with Nathalie herself and Luca Lo Pinto at Kunsthalle Wien to highlight the innovative, dynamic and prolific oeuvre of an artist whose work continues to grow in its influence across creative fields through both direct collaborations and through other artists inspired by her practice. The exhibition design, as envisioned by Nathalie, erases notions of hierarchy, disciplinary boundaries, and periodicity in a manner that is truly reflective of her ethos as an artist.” 

Images courtesy of Kunsthalle Wien and the ICA.

2017 Purchasing Services Supplier Show: September 19

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Events
  • print

The annual Supplier Show hosted by Penn Purchasing Services will be held on Tuesday, September 19 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at 3680 Walnut Street. Come discover the innovative supplier solutions from the approximately 50 exhibitors and sponsoring organizations that will be onsite. Attendees will learn what’s new in procurement categories such as office supplies, print and design, computers and AV, travel, computer peripherals, furniture and stationery. Plus, you can “go green” at the show if want to exchange your surplus office supplies at the “Ben’s Attic Pop Up Office Supplies Swap Tent.” The Green Purchasing Awards Presentation will occur at 12:15 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to register in advance. Lunch will be served. Remember—bring your PennCard to be eligible for door prizes.


Weekly Crime Reports

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Crimes
  • print

The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

About the Crime Report: Below are all Crimes Against Persons, Property and Crimes Against Society from the campus report for August 28-September 3, 2017. View prior weeks' reports. —Ed.

This summary is prepared by the Division of Public Safety and includes all criminal incidents reported and made known to the University Police Department between the dates of August 28-September 3, 2017. The University Police actively patrol from Market Street to Baltimore Avenue and from the Schuylkill River to 43rd Street in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police. In this effort to provide you with a thorough and accurate report on public safety concerns, we hope that your increased awareness will lessen the opportunity for crime. For any concerns or suggestions regarding this report, please call the Division of Public Safety at (215) 898-4482.

08/29/173:22 PM4000 Chestnut StTire punctured by offender/ Arrest
08/30/177:34 PM100 S 42nd StCell phone taken from complainant’s hand
08/30/1710:26 PM4001 Walnut StMerchandise taken without payment/ Arrest
08/30/1710:44 PM4001 Walnut StMerchandise taken without payment/ Arrest
08/30/176:42 PM4100 Locust StAuto taken from highway
08/31/179:07 AM3260 South StUnsecured iPhone and Penncard removed from purse
08/31/171:17 PM51 N 39th StComplainant was punched in face
08/31/172:16 PM3400 Sansom StUnsecured bike taken from bike rack
08/31/174:07 PM3606 Chestnut StTrespassing/Arrest
09/01/1710:11 AM3700 Spruce StUnauthorized charges made on credit card
09/01/1712:47 PM3410 Civic Center BlvdComplainant pushed by irate male
09/01/173:49 PM3100 Chestnut StIntoxicated driver/ Arrest
09/01/1711:47 PM3700 Chestnut StCitation issued for fighting
09/02/172:22 AM3700 Spruce StComplainant grabbed inappropriately
09/03/177:19 PM4100 Chestnut StUnknown male grabbed complainant's cell phone

18th District Report

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 8 incidents with 1 arrest (1 aggravated assault, 1 indecent assault, 3 assaults, and 3 robberies) were reported between August 28-September 3, 2017 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

08/28/1712:39 AM47th & Woodland AveRobbery
08/28/175:28 PM4500 Market StRobbery
08/29/1712:54 PM4831 Walton AveAssault
08/30/1711:39 PM1242 S 47th StRobbery
09/01/1712:47 PM3400 Civic Center Blvd.Assault
09/02/173:42 AM3700 Spruce StIndecent Assault
09/02/178:29 PM3400 Spruce StAssault
09/03/1711:33 PM4040 Chestnut StAggravated Assault/ Arrest


A New, More Convenient AirPennNet

  • September 12, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 4
  • Bulletins
  • print

Another tip in a series provided by the
Offices of Information Systems & Computing
and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.


Over the course of the past summer, the various AirPennNet networks have undergone a series of changes, to better serve the Penn community, and make the lives of students, staff and faculty (as well as guests) just a little less stressful. Both AirPennNet-Guest, for use by guests on campus, and AirPennNet-Device, for use by devices that cannot connect to AirPennNet, have undergone changes and expansion.

AirPennNet-Guest was updated to allow for a much simpler process for getting guests online. Now, guests can simply connect to AirPennNet-Guest while on campus and upon supplying an email address, will be granted access for a 24-hour period before having to renew their connection. This means guests can now connect without the assistance of someone with a PennKey and event planners no longer need to request codes for distribution to attendees.  AirPennNet-Guest should only be used by guests and should not be used if a connection to AirPennNet is permitted.

AirPennNet-Device has been expanded and simplified. AirPennNet-Device, formerly only available in the College Houses, was used to connect devices that cannot traditionally connect to AirPennNet, due to a lack of browser or lack of other support. These devices include things such as the Amazon Echo, Xbox, PlayStation, Roku and more. AirPennNet-Device has now been expanded to serve the entire campus and meet the needs of a rapidly growing variety of connected devices.

To connect a device to AirPennNet-Device, use a web browser to access the AirPennNet-Device Portal (PennKey login required), then register the device’s MAC address/physical hardware address and provide a description of the device. A user may self-register up to five devices.

For more information on using wireless at Penn, visit the Using Wireless at Penn information page.

For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website.