Gift from Noelle and Dick Wolf: Endowing the Wolf Humanities Center
A gift from Noelle and Dick Wolf has provided a permanent endowment for Penn’s Wolf Humanities Center, which will establish itself in a newly renovated wing of Williams Hall by early November. Dick Wolf, C’69, PAR’15, is a Penn alumnus best known as the multiple Emmy-winning creator of the Law & Order and Chicago branded series.
Jim English, director of the Wolf Humanities Center, said, “We are thrilled to receive this gift from Noelle and Dick Wolf. It is a strong endorsement of our interdisciplinary and public-oriented approach to the humanities, and will enable us to do a number of things that we’ve simply not had the means to pursue before now. Over the next couple of years, I expect us to be expanding our Humanities At Large program, sponsoring more events off campus and more events in the performing arts, undertaking ambitious collaborations with the programs in Digital Humanities and Environmental Humanities, and providing new fellowship opportunities to support faculty projects in key areas of humanities research.
“For the past 18 years, the Penn Humanities Forum (PHF) has been supporting innovative scholarship and promoting conversation between scholars, students and an ever larger and more diverse array of non-academic constituencies. Hundreds of scholars have received fellowships, and our public events draw thousands of people every year from throughout the Philadelphia area. The Wolf gift stands as a recognition of the Forum’s achievements and an endorsement of the Center’s ambition to make Penn a major hub for regional, national and global humanities research,” he added.
The humanities are more than ever in need of resources such as the Wolf gift. The humanities are expanding, becoming ever more vital participants in many fields, from sustainability and climate studies to disability and health sciences. The Wolf Humanities Center will continue the proud tradition of the PHF, supporting humanists in their wider ambitions and ensuring that their voices are heard.
Led by topic director Emily Wilson, professor of classical studies, the Wolf Humanities Center’s 2017-2018 Forum on Afterlives opens September 27 with Ghosts, Zombies and the Afterlives of Slavery, a public conversation between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead and Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English and Africana studies. The Dr. S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities will be in the Harrison Auditorium, at the Penn Museum, from 5-6:30 p.m.
The new home of the Wolf Humanities Center will also be the home of the Price Lab for the Digital Humanities (Almanac February 10, 2015) on the 6th floor of Williams Hall where there will be a conference room, collaborative work space, a lounge, space for postdocs and shared administrative space.
$5.4 Million Gift to Create Program for Asperger Syndrome Research
The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is establishing the Asperger Syndrome Program of Excellence (ASPE) with a $5.4 million gift from an anonymous donor. ASPE aims to significantly improve understanding of the genetic causes of Asperger syndrome in order to energize the international research and clinical community.
Asperger syndrome (AS) is defined as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) without intellectual disability. ASPE will be a central resource for individuals and families affected by AS and for clinicians and researchers seeking to partner with the program. It will also provide funds for research by new faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. ASPE will take a two-pronged approach by conducting a pioneering family-based genetic study and simultaneously developing model systems to investigate specific mutations in genes found in earlier genome-wide association studies associated with AS and ASD.
“Penn is poised to make genetic discoveries that will significantly improve how the medical community approaches Asperger syndrome,” said Daniel J. Rader, chair of genetics and ASPE director. “ASPE will draw on our strength in genetics and psychiatry to push the field ahead to create new options for individuals and families. We are fortunate to be partnering with a truly forward-thinking philanthropist.”
Penn will host an international symposium for ASPE in the spring of 2018 to review early findings and stimulate new research avenues. World-renowned developmental psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, will chair ASPE’s external advisory board. “ASPE’s work will be highly collaborative in nature, pulling together expertise from across the globe,” Dr. Rader said. “We are delighted to be partnering with Dr. Baron-Cohen and his colleagues from the outset.”
A major focus of ASPE will be on the NRXN1 gene, which codes for the protein neurexin 1 and has been associated with ASD and other psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. The ASPE team will compare the genomes of individuals with and without mutations in the NRXN1 gene and individuals with AS and their family members who may or may not have been diagnosed with AS.
“Leveraging advanced technologies in genomic medicine and improved methods of behavioral assessment, we aim to identify genes that contribute to Asperger syndrome, to unveil how these genes function biologically, and to use this information to improve how we diagnose and treat Asperger syndrome,” said Maja Bucan, professor of genetics, and the program’s co-director with Edward Brodkin, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Adult Autism Spectrum Program at Penn.
“While most genetic studies of ASD have focused on more severely affected individuals with intellectual disability, the efforts of our program will be one of the first large-scale genetic studies to recruit individuals with Asperger syndrome and their family members, including family members with AS, ASD, or without either diagnosis,” Dr. Brodkin said. “This approach holds promise for revealing as-yet-undiscovered genetic mechanisms that may be involved in both AS and ASD, as a whole.”
The ASPE team will use model systems to study exactly how mutations in the NRXN1 gene and newly discovered genes affect the biology and function of the brain in individuals with Asperger syndrome. Model systems include fruit flies, mice and human induced pluripotent stem cells that have been genetically engineered to closely resemble specific human characteristics of ASD. The team will also develop new mouse and fruit fly models to recreate other mutations identified in families in the study.
“Building on our expertise in ASD, with such conditions as Rett syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and CDKL5 disorder, we plan to significantly improve our understanding of how NRXN1 and other genes affect patients with Asperger syndrome,” said Zhaolan (Joe) Zhou, an associate professor of genetics, who along with Tom Jongens, also an associate professor of genetics, will lead ASPE’s model system work.
“One of the exciting features of ASPE is that we will be going beyond diagnoses to look at the whole individual, measuring variation in many different aspects of functioning,” said Laura Almasy, a professor of genetics who will direct statistical genetic analyses for the project. “This should help us both to identify genes and to understand their role in vulnerability and also in resilience.”
“The overall goal of ASPE is to uncover the full picture of how NRXN1 mutations interact with other gene variants to contribute to Asperger syndrome and other neurodevelopmental conditions,” Dr. Rader said. “Guided by these discoveries, the team will explore precise new treatments to improve the lives of individuals affected by Asperger syndrome.”
Casey Brown and Golnaz Vahedi, both from Penn, are also on the program’s faculty.
Marc Flandreau: Howard Marks Professor of Economic History
Dean Steven J. Fluharty is pleased to announce that Marc Flandreau has joined Penn Arts and Sciences as the Howard Marks Professor of Economic History. Previously Dr. Flandreau was professor of international history at the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development in Geneva.
A leading historian and economist who studies the international monetary system and the financial entanglements of international institutions from the mid-19th century to World War I, Dr. Flandreau has published three books, Anthropologists in the Stock Exchange: A Financial History of Victorian Science; The Glitter of Gold: France, Bimetallism, and the Emergence of the International Gold Standard; and Money Doctors: The Experience of International Financial Advising, 1850-2000.
He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, and his research has received support from Bank Mirabaud, the Fondation Bank de France and France’s Agence Nationale de la Recherche. He is co-founder and former president of the European Historical Economics Society and serves on the editorial boards of leading journals in economic history.
The Howard Marks Professorship in Economic History was established in 2012 by Howard S. Marks, W’67, and his wife, Nancy. Mr. Marks is the founder and co-chair of Oaktree Capital Management, LLC. As chair of the University Trustee’s Investment Board from 2000-2010—a decade bookended by major financial crises—he avoided the market’s excesses and grew the endowment from $3.2 billion to $5.9 billion, receiving national recognition for his management.
He is also a writer whose memos are eagerly anticipated across the financial world for their wisdom, charm and clarity. Many of these, along with commentary, are gathered in The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor.
In addition to establishing this professorship, Mr. and Mrs. Marks generously established the Marks Family Writing Center and are long-time scholarship supporters for students in all four undergraduate schools. They also recently endowed the Howard Marks University Professorship and the Howard Marks Investor Speaker Series at Wharton. Mr. Marks is an emeritus trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Inaugural Penn Biden Global Leaders Dialogue
The Inaugural Penn Biden Global Leaders Dialogue on September 26, in Irvine will feature former Vice President Joe Biden, the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in conversation with former President of México Felipe Calderón, who was president from 2006-2012.
The Dialogue is the culmination of the Perry World House Fall Colloquium on The Future of the Global Order in an Era of Nationalism, Populism and Retrenchment. This event is sponsored by the Perry World House in collaboration with Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Postdoctoral Fellowships for Academic Diversity: November 3
The Vice Provost for Research, in partnership with the deans, established the Postdoctoral Fellowships for Academic Diversity to encourage a broad spectrum of candidates to pursue research careers in academia.
Now in its seventh year, the program seeks to attract promising researchers and educators from different backgrounds, races, ethnic groups and other diverse populations whose life experience, research experience and employment background will contribute significantly to the University’s academic mission. Fellowships are available for postdoctoral training in all areas of study at Penn.
Fellows receive a stipend of $50,000 in year 1, with $2,000 increments in years 2 and 3, as well as annual allowances for travel ($2,000) and research ($5,000) and a one-time relocation allowance of $5,000. The University also provides a medical, vision, dental and life insurance benefits package. Successful candidates will receive highly mentored scholarly and research training, as well as courses and workshops to enhance their research success skills.
The application deadline is November 3, 2017. Complete details about the program can be found online.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant: Fellowships for the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Futures Project
(Left to right) SP2 Calvin Bland Fellow Toorjo Ghose, Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel, Penn GSE Calvin Bland Fellow Ed Brockenbrough, Calvin Bland, Penn Nursing Calvin Bland Fellow Lisa Lewis, SP2 Dean John L. Jackson and Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman.
The University of Pennsylvania established the Calvin Bland Faculty Fellowships for the Penn Futures Project. A $2 million endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) created a separate fellowship for each of the Penn Schools in the Penn Futures Project (PFP): the School of Nursing, the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). The fellowships are named for Calvin Bland W’72, former RWJF chief of staff, health care executive and research professor at Rutgers University, whose scholarship and career have explored how to foster health equity across communities, with a specific emphasis on men and boys of color.
“Calvin Bland and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have enabled us to create genuinely multidisciplinary endowed fellowships that will support work addressing the complex, evolving challenges of at-risk populations—both now and far into the future,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “This is extremely important work for our society, and we are very grateful for the generous support that will make it possible.”
Research on At-Risk Populations
PFP has named three Calvin Bland Faculty Fellows: Ed Brockenbrough, associate professor in Penn GSE’s Teaching, Learning & Leadership division; Toorjo Ghose, associate professor at SP2 and founder of the Center for Carceral Communities; and Lisa Lewis, associate professor and assistant dean for Diversity and Inclusivity at Penn Nursing.
The Calvin Bland Faculty Fellowships are specifically designed to incentivize faculty to conduct research aimed at improving the lives of at-risk young men/boys of color and their families. Each fellowship will have a five-year term with specific research goals for the term. Grant funds will be used for research and research-related expenses, including convening conferences, lectures, seminars and other events to disseminate the research of the fellows, and helping fellows to publish work in scholarly and popular venues.
Mr. Bland initially approached Penn about opportunities to fund efforts to improve the lives of at-risk young men of color. His concerns paralleled the PFP’s efforts to more holistically deliver interventions to serve children and communities through established research, curriculum and other initiatives. Together, Mr. Bland and Penn developed the Bland Faculty Fellows to promote and reward multi-pronged, interdisciplinary approaches to issues facing at- risk young men of color.
“Placing fellows at each of the three Penn schools to work together to address the equity, health and well-being of at-risk young men of color will foster truly integrated approaches in education and research, which will then be more easily translated into the community,” Mr. Bland said.
“As this project started before I left the Foundation,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, former RWJF president, “let me say that I and all my RWJF colleagues are excited to be funding this pioneering project in honor of a great Philadelphia son, inspirational leader and tireless mentor to many, Calvin Bland. In his work at the Foundation, and now in retirement, he continues to collaborate with RWJF to promote outstanding initiatives that build healthy communities, and break down obstacles in the pursuit of better health and quality of life.”
The Penn Futures Project: Investing in Children & Communities
The challenges facing marginalized youth and families are complex and extend beyond the boundaries of neighborhoods, school zones or health clinics. These include issues of violence and safety; poverty; mental health; access to quality health care and access to quality education. Yet the systems and organizations that serve this population operate largely in siloes that erect barriers to collaborative, comprehensive interventions. The professionals who serve children and families are educated largely in isolation from one another, despite decades of calls for high-quality, cross-disciplinary training. Children and families at greatest risk need not only the expertise of individual professionals, but also of professionals well-versed in collaboration. They also need collaborative and comprehensive solutions to address the complex and interwoven issues they face each day.
Launched in 2015, the PFP is an initiative driven by the Deans of Nursing (Antonia Villarruel); GSE (Pam Grossman); and SP2 (John L. Jackson) that seeks to bridge siloes to collaboratively generate knowledge, deliver solutions and develop future professionals ready to join forces to improve outcomes for marginalized youth and families.
Twenty-Five Year Club: New Members for 2017
Since 1956, Penn has celebrated a rite of passage each year for faculty and staff of all ranks who meet one common requisite: they have been members of the University community for 25 years. Another 133 new members crossed the 25-year mark in 2017 and will be welcomed at the University of Pennsylvania annual 25-Year Club celebration on Thursday, October 5 from 5-7 p.m. in Houston Hall.
Registration is required to attend and guests can register at email@example.com
These events are presented by Penn’s Division of Human Resources.
Preceding the 25-Year Club celebration on October 5, the 25-Year Club Annual Lecture will be held. The lecture will begin at 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of Houston Hall in the Class of ’49 Auditorium and is open to the Penn community. The speaker will be Jane Golden, the executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, who will discuss Public Art and Social Change. This lecture is sponsored by the Penn Association of Senior and Emeritus Faculty (PASEF).
The New Bolton Center will have a separate celebration on October 18.
Soraya Abbasi, Perelman School of Medicine
Betty S. Adler, President’s Center
Elizabeth Brown-Aigeldinger, Development & Alumni Relations
Debbie Morrall Anderson, Perelman School of Medicine
William M. Armstead, Perelman School of Medicine
Anou Ayene, Perelman School of Medicine
Cordelia Baffic, Perelman School of Medicine
Joyce A. Barnett, Perelman School of Medicine
Paul F. Bates, Perelman School of Medicine
Elana M. Benasutti, School of Veterinary Medicine
Jean Bennett, Perelman School of Medicine
Warren B. Bilker, Perelman School of Medicine
Joretha Bourjolly, Social Policy and Practice
Lawrence W. Brown, Perelman School of Medicine
Glenn D. Bryan, President’s Center
Eugene Buckley, SAS
Robert Bumbera, President’s Center
Douglas A. Canning, Perelman School of Medicine
Michael A. Carchidi, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bharat L. Chauhan, School of Dental Medicine
Janet Ann Chrzan, School of Nursing
Robin L. Clark, SAS
Kimberly A. Craig, Provost’s Center
Carla Crawford, Residential and Hospitality Services
Anne M. Cunningham, Student Services
Diane Deissroth, Wharton School
Robert W. Doms, Perelman School of Medicine
J. William Draper, Law School
Tia Dreher, Perelman School of Medicine
William T. Dreisbach, School of Veterinary Medicine
Nandor C. Dressnandt, SAS
Mark A. Elliott, Perelman School of Medicine
Tricia M. Evans, School of Veterinary Medicine
Martha J. Farah, SAS
Lynne Farrington, University Libraries
Anita D. Faust, Division of Finance
Geoffrey J. Filinuk, Information Systems and Computing
Marissa A. Fox, Perelman School of Medicine
Craig Martin Gary, FRES
Vincent J. Gifoli, FRES
Rae L. Goodman, Division of Executive Vice President
Joseph H. Gorman, III, Perelman School of Medicine
David E. Graff, SAS
Paul Grant, Perelman School of Medicine
William I. Graw, FRES
W. Clark Hargrove, III, Perelman School of Medicine
Sean P. Hennessy, Perelman School of Medicine
Catherine Hinton, University Libraries
Steven C. Horii, Perelman School of Medicine
Howard H. Hu, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Harry Ischiropoulos, Perelman School of Medicine
Marvin V. Jackson, Perelman School of Medicine
Yi-Tai Jou, School of Dental Medicine
Gary Kao, Perelman School of Medicine
Rosemarie A. Kappes, Perelman School of Medicine
Alireza Kassaee, Perelman School of Medicine
Jill Ann Klischies, School of Dental Medicine
Daniel M. Kolansky, Perelman School of Medicine
Owen J. Korman, Division of Business Services
Joseph T. Krecko, FRES
Ann L. Kuttner, SAS
Glen K. Lafferty, Perelman School of Medicine
Andrew T. Lamas, SAS
Lorraine Levitt Katz, Perelman School of Medicine
John Lewis, Perelman School of Medicine
Anna M. Loh, Wharton School
Rosemary Lombardi, School of Veterinary Medicine
Philip M. Lydon, Sr., Division of Public Safety
Patricia Lynn, University Libraries
Arkady L. Lyubarsky, Perelman School of Medicine
Albert M. Maguire, Perelman School of Medicine
Amit Maity, Perelman School of Medicine
Sandra C. Mancini, Human Resources
Linda Mangino, Perelman School of Medicine
Maria R. Mascarenhas, Perelman School of Medicine
Leland C. Mayne, Perelman School of Medicine
Megan Anne McHugh, School of Dental Medicine
John McCloskey, Division of Business Services
Jeremy James McInerney, SAS
Regina A. Medlock, Perelman School of Medicine
Thomas A. Mickler, Perelman School of Medicine
Wallace T. Miller, Jr., Perelman School of Medicine
Georgina Minda, Wharton School
Sherry Elizabeth Morgan, University Libraries
Jon B. Morris, Perelman School of Medicine
George M. Musonge, Student Services
Melissa R. Muth, Information Systems and Computing
Hyun-Duck Nah-Cederquist, Perelman School of Medicine
Philip M. Nichols, Wharton School
Robert G. Oder, Division of Business Services
Anthony P. Overend, FRES
Maurizio Pacifici, Perelman School of Medicine
Chantal Philippon-Daniel, SAS
Lou Ann Pizzo, Perelman School of Medicine
John Pollack, University Libraries
Rosette Pyne, Student Services
Jean-Michel Rabate, SAS
Jagmohan Singh Raju, Wharton School
Roger A. Reina, Division of Recreation & Intercollegiate Athletics
Francine Sarin, University Museum
Mary H. Scanlon, Perelman School of Medicine
Kim A. Sharp, Perelman School of Medicine
Robin M. Sherwood, SAS
Douglas H. Smith, Perelman School of Medicine
Kim Smith-Whitley, Perelman School of Medicine
Diane L. Spatz, School of Nursing
Jeffrey Stafford, FRES
Celeste R. Stewart, Information Systems and Computing
Stephanie M. Strassel, SAS
Valerie A. Swartz, Division of Finance
Daniela Szymanska, FRES
Erica Thaler, Perelman School of Medicine
Louis A. Thomas, Wharton School
Janet L. Tomcavage, School of Nursing
Jacinta Tovar, Residential and Hospitality Services
John D. Truempy, FRES
Liwei Tu, Perelman School of Medicine
Susan Ann Underdue, Residential and Hospitality Services
Kristofor A. Varhus, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Charles H. Vite, School of Veterinary Medicine
Kenneth M. Waidelich, FRES
Mary Webster, Perelman School of Medicine
Michelle Werner, School of Veterinary Medicine
James Spencer White, Perelman School of Medicine
Daniel R. Widyono, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Christopher A. Williams, President’s Center
Karen I. Winey, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Gary D. Wu, Perelman School of Medicine
Robert F. Wynne, Perelman School of Medicine
Lidia Zapart, FRES
Laurie J. Zimmerman, Perelman School of Medicine
Andrew Zimnoch, Provost’s Center
Joseph Zucca, University Libraries