Penn Medicine News Blog Archive: Basic Science

Filling the Diversity Pipeline, One Student at a Time

By Karen Kreeger | December 2, 2016 | Comments Pipeline

Minorities in biomedical education are growing, but draining away once they get farther along in their careers, according to a study covered this month by The Atlantic. Kenneth Gibbs Jr., an immunologist and science-policy expert at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, looked at the number of graduates and... Read more

Painkiller Study Sparks Controversy at National Meeting of Heart Experts, Penn Expert Questions Results

By Abbey Anderson | November 16, 2016 | Comments Pills

Earlier this week at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2016 in New Orleans, researchers presented data – which was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine – from the PRECISION trial, which evaluated the impacts of celecoxib – commonly known as Celebrex – on risk of heart... Read more

Beating Cancer Cells at Their Own Game

By Karen Kreeger | November 9, 2016 | Comments Cartwheel Ben Aston Flickr Creative Commons

Most cells do metabolic somersaults to survive under stressful a condition – which is to say, they enlist the most expedient biochemical pathways to produce essential molecules in order to survive. By comparison, cancer cells perform high-wire cartwheels to recruit alternative pathways to thwart cancer drugs. As cancer cells do... Read more

Coming Soon in Penn Medicine: Health Costs and Innovators

By John Shea | October 28, 2016 | Comments image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/16102816/680ccf3a-3502-4593-b47d-0ef10d09c391.png

The villain of the piece may change from year to year or even month to month -– it may be a cancer drug that costs more than $120,000 a year, or Turing’s Daraprim, or Mylan MV’s EpiPen -– but drug companies have been excoriated in the media with increasing frequency... Read more

On the Road with Data Science

By Karen Kreeger | September 28, 2016 | Comments Olson NPS Road trip map

Randy Olson, PhD, a senior data scientist with Penn’s Institute for Biomedical Informatics (IBI), started publishing optimized road trip maps -- a modern Trip Tik of sorts -- while still a graduate student at Michigan State University in 2014. They’ve remain a big hit on social media and in the... Read more

Of Mice and Muscles

By Karen Kreeger | August 10, 2016 | Comments Mouse

Penn has a long history of muscle research, much of which is relevant to Olympic-level athletes and their abilities. As the Rio Olympic Games approach, many armchair spectators of the Games may be wondering: How do those athletes endure their grueling runs, swims, and rides? And, on the flip side... Read more

Mysteries and Controversies of the Placenta

By Karen Kreeger | July 29, 2016 | Comments Pregnancy bump with heart John Hope

For an organ the female body makes and then sheds all within less than a year, the placenta has long held a place of reverence in human culture. But for scientists, the placenta still holds some mysteries and now some scholarly controversy. The organ, which supplies a developing baby oxygen... Read more

How Microbes are Informing the Fight Against Cancer

By Karen Kreeger | July 14, 2016 | Comments Wherry Immunity post NIAID healthy T cell

Like many therapies today, the so-called checkpoint inhibitor drugs that boost the immune system to fight cancer have an interesting back story on how they made it into the clinic. Hint: it didn’t all start in a cancer biology laboratory. A major part of the story began with microbiologists studying... Read more

Q&A with a One-time Hollywood “Ant Wrangler”

By Paul Foster | June 29, 2016 | Comments image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-06-28/dd538259d83748e2a6566c8625106f96.png

Earning one’s PhD can be a hard-won accomplishment, years of dogged work finally paying off, but rarely does that road make a stop, albeit a temporary one, in Hollywood. That’s just where it led Karl Glastad, now a post-doc researcher in the lab of Shelley Berger, PhD, scientific director of... Read more

Precision Medicine Takes Center Stage at Penn

By John Shea | June 27, 2016 | Comments image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-06-27/fe6541bd51c0497782ea2b0bda8d496d.png

What once was called “personalized medicine” at Penn used to be practiced primarily by individuals or small groups of researchers and clinicians drawn to its possibilities. But as the cover story in the Summer 2016 issue of Penn Medicine demonstrates, the ability to harness vast amounts of information and apply... Read more

The Data and Scientists Behind Beautiful Images

By Karen Kreeger | May 20, 2016 | Comments Art in Science Tischfield May 2016

As Nancy Speck, PhD, chair of the department of Cell and Developmental Biology, mentioned in a past blog post on the annual Perelman School of Medicine Art in Science Competition, “anyone can generate data, but not everyone can make pictures.” At the time, she was commenting on Amanda Yzaguirre, a... Read more

Gender Bias and the Leaking Biomedical Pipeline

By Katie Delach | April 18, 2016 | Comments Pipe

“Another day, another 70 cents!” Those were parting words from my mom every morning as she headed off to work at a cytogenetics lab, and I left for school. I didn’t really get it then – how could I when as a pre-teen my biggest problems were whether people were... Read more

“Penn Village” Sets up Camp Again at 2016’s Philly Science Festival

By Karen Kreeger | April 15, 2016 | Comments Headphones

The Philadelphia Science Festival kicks off on April 22, and Penn Medicine will again play a leading role in the sixth annual city-wide event that showcases science and technology from all corners of the Delaware Valley. The Festival packs more than 90 events into nine days at diverse locations across... Read more

Small But Mighty

By Karen Kreeger | April 1, 2016 | Comments Cells

There is a long-held tradition in fruitfly research for silly gene nomenclature. For example, take the inspiration from mutations that affect fruit fly testes. The so-called “defenders of DNA,” the Piwi (for P-element induced wimpy testis) family of proteins, got its incongruous name from the researcher who discovered the gene... Read more

Repairing Injured Kidneys Through Regeneration

By Karen Kreeger | January 15, 2016 | Comments Kidney

The capacity to regenerate has mythic qualities for most of us, but the human body has very little ability to regrow body parts on its own compared to say, flatworms that can regenerate a whole new self from small pieces, or some reptiles and amphibians that can regrow lost tails... Read more

Copper: A ‘Novel Vulnerability’ in Fighting Cancer

By Karen Kreeger | December 16, 2015 | Comments Copper

I looked at the ornaments on the desk. Everything standard and all copper. A copper lamp, pen set and pencil tray, a glass and copper ashtray with a copper elephant on the rim, a copper letter opener, a copper thermos bottle on a copper tray, copper corners on the blotter... Read more

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

By Karen Kreeger | November 20, 2015 | Comments image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15112017/8640e83a-ae21-4b3c-83ea-6dca3b0c3d42.png

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

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