Penn Medicine News Blog Archive: Basic Science

The Family and Lab Behind a ‘Precious’ Donation to Basic Research

By Karen Kreeger | November 20, 2015 | Comments image from

In 2009, Sarah Gray found out during a routine ultrasound that one of the twins she was carrying had anencephaly, a fatal genetic condition where the brain and skull don't fully develop. After his death, she and her husband donated Thomas’s organs and tissues and since then, have been tracking how they've been used. Read more

Looking to Ancient Symbionts for New Cancer Therapies

By Karen Kreeger | October 26, 2015 | Comments Mitochondria Courtesy NICHD

Talk about a eureka moment: Andrea Facciabene, PhD, a research assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was taking a walk one day on the Penn campus when it hit him: What do we really need to make immunotherapy a reality for everybody? The answer, he thought, was in the mitochondria,... Read more

Translation Starts at the Bench for Penn Fellow (VIDEO)

By Karen Kreeger | October 19, 2015 | Comments Pipette Fume Hood PP 2015

For postdoctoral fellow Kristen Pauken, PhD, what “gets her up in the morning” are the cancer immunology experiments she is conducting alongside her mentor John Wherry, PhD, director of the Institute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine. His lab concentrates on getting a better handle on what makes... Read more

How Entropy Affects Drug Design

By Karen Kreeger | September 30, 2015 | Comments Dutton Entropic Boltzman_PLD_crop

Entropic Botzmann by Les Dutton, PhD How could entropy, the basis of the second law of thermodynamics -- or simply put, the measure of disorder in a system -- have anything to do with medicine, a seemingly orderly discipline? Ask Kim Sharp, PhD, an associate professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics,... Read more

Plugging up the Pipeline

By Karen Kreeger | September 2, 2015 | Comments Steps Jeremy Levine

Cultivating a career in biomedical research is basically a series of experiential steps: Most times, but not always, it starts with a knack and interest in STEM subjects -- science, technology, engineering and math -- in high school, a relevant major in college, eventually earning a PhD, and securing a... Read more

Using Summertime for a Head Start in the Lab

By Karen Kreeger | August 5, 2015 | Comments Summer in the lab pic Aug 2015

Back in 2013, the Penn Medicine News Blog covered then rising high school junior Kareema Dixon, who started her science career, in part, by participating in the BioEYES program developed by Jamie Shuda, EdD, director of Life Science Outreach at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM). Dixon continued with her... Read more

What's Eating the Erythrocytes?

By Karen Kreeger | July 8, 2015 | Comments Red Blood Cell Andrew Mason

In the rare, life-threatening disease called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), patients are stricken with chronic anemia and blood clots, when the oldest part of the immune system -- known as complement -- turns against its own red blood cells, or erythrocytes. Complement is a network of more than 50 proteins... Read more

A “Hardy Perennial” View of Conflict of Interest

By Karen Kreeger | June 12, 2015 | Comments Conflict of interest E Pluribus

Perennials and hope spring eternal. And so it seems does the debate over conflict of interest in academia. The latest deliberations took place last week in the pages of two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. Three former New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) editors commented in a British... Read more

250 Years of Progress, Here's to 250 More

By Robert Press | May 26, 2015 | Comments

A whole lot can happen in 250 years. That’s partially because — and I guess this isn’t much of a surprise — 250 years is a long time. Long enough for a standard snail to circle the globe about 2.64 times (seriously, I did the math). Long enough for Niagara... Read more

2015 Philadelphia Science Festival Recap (Slide Show)

By Karen Kreeger | May 15, 2015 | Comments

The fifth annual Philadelphia Science Festival is now a happy memory for all who participated, yet the creativity, as well as knowledge of science that Penn Medicine faculty, staff, and students shared with the public, will last until the next festival. Penn Med took part in many activities all over...

The New Avengers: Lab-Coated Heroes Honored for Behind-the-Scenes Contributions

By Karen Kreeger | May 5, 2015 | Comments Lab week 2015 logo

Late last month Penn Medicine observed the fortieth Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, a time to recognize the hard work and dedication of the 600-plus lab professionals in more than 30 laboratories across the health system. Read more

Penn Medicine at the 2015 Philadelphia Science Festival

By Karen Kreeger | April 9, 2015 | Comments 2014 Carnival Penn village tents

Penn Medicine will again play a leading role in the fifth annual Philadelphia Science Festival, a citywide collaboration showcasing science and technology every spring. The Festival packs more than 100 events into nine days at locations across the region, including restaurants and breweries, parks, libraries, and museums. Read more

Beginner Brain Science (Slide Show)

By Karen Kreeger | March 30, 2015 | Comments NGG class and grad students 1

NGG class and grad students 1“What has a brain?” asked Patti Murphy, a doctoral student in the lab of Michael Granato, PhD, a professor of Cell and Development Biology. “Sharks!” “Humans!” “Dinosaurs had really little brains!” came the enthusiastic replies from the first-graders in Leonor Jimenez’s science classroom at Independence Charter School, a Philadelphia school known for its cultural diversity, advanced curriculum, including science at early grade levels, and dedicated teachers and parent volunteers. This is the second year that grad students in the Penn Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG) conducted a two-day neuroscience outreach program for elementary school students in Philadelphia. Read more

What’s Going on Inside the Richards Medical Research Building These Days?

By Karen Kreeger | March 4, 2015 | Comments Richards_Labs_Penn

The early 1960s were a heady time on the medical school campus and another wonderful chapter in its past 250 years. In 1960, Peter Nowell and David Hungerford discovered the Philadelphia chromosome, which linked cancer to genetic abnormalities for the first time. In 1962, Aaron Beck devised a revolutionary form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy. Both of these achievements were destined for international fame and utility. In between those clinical accomplishments, in 1961, an eight-story medical research building, designed by iconoclast architect Louis Kahn, was completed on Hamilton Walk. It was named after renowned Penn pharmacologist and department chair Alfred Newton Richards. Read more

Focus on Rare Diseases is Common at Penn Medicine

By Karen Kreeger | February 6, 2015 | Comments Rare Disease Day Logo 2015

Penn Medicine has been at the forefront of rare disease research for decades, and these efforts – as well as many of its other research and clinical milestones -- are being honored this year as part of the Perelman School of Medicine’s 250th anniversary celebration. Read more

Beyond Cancer: When Both Parents Hold BRCA, a New Risk Can Emerge

By Karen Kreeger | January 14, 2015 | Comments Greenberg Cancer Discovery blog post image

Greenberg Cancer Discovery blog post imageMany families are acutely aware that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most important breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes. But recently a team including researchers at Penn Medicine discovered another risk it can pose in cancer patients when both parents carry the mutation. Read more

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2014!

By Steve Graff | December 31, 2014 | Comments

Before we ring in the New Year, the Penn Medicine department of Communications is taking a look back at 2014, a year filled with more breakthroughs in medical research, growth at the Penn Medicine campus, and philanthropic support. This year, we took a different approach and put together a year...

Using Collaboration and Innovation to Counteract Flat Federal Research Funding

By Karen Kreeger | December 18, 2014 | Comments Light bulb by shuttermonkey via Flickr

With such astounding shortfalls in funding for biomedical research, Penn Medicine, a key stakeholder of the new Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), is looking for fresh ways to fund research and partner with the private sector. The PCI consolidates and unifies the enterprise previously known as the Penn Center for Technology Transfer with other campus entities charged with commercializing Penn research and Development into license agreements, sponsored research agreements, startup companies and other collaborative relationships. Read more

The Trend: More than a Twitter Sidebar

By Robert Press | December 5, 2014 | Comments image from

I've always found one of the most fascinating aspects of social media to be its Hemingway-like quest to pack as much information into as small a space as possible. What started with Xanga and LiveJournal — two of the many longform blogging platforms us angsty teenagers of the early 2000s... Read more


By Karen Kreeger | December 4, 2014 | Comments ASCB Larger Than Life Gallery hall between Terminals E-F installation view

A preview of Penn Medicine cell biologists’ activities -- from art to advocacy to abstracts -- at the 2014 American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting in Philadelphia this week. Read more

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