Penn Medicine News Blog: Posts by Karen Kreeger

Karen KreegerKaren is responsible for disseminating information about the discoveries from the basic science departments within the School of Medicine, which includes cancer biology, cell & developmental biology, biological aspects of infectious diseases, neurosciences, pathology and laboratory medicine, and pharmacology, among other duties. Karen previously held this position in the late 1990s.

Karen has held positions in both public affairs and science and medical writing. She was senior editor at The Scientist, as well as maintained a freelance communications business for several years, writing for such clients as Nature, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the Wistar Institute.

Karen holds an MS in Scientific and Technical Communication from Oregon State University (1992) and an MS in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware (1985). She is also an author of a book on non-traditional careers in science.

View Karen's bio and beats

Roundabout RNA: How Circular RNAs Form

October 24, 2014 // Comments Wilusz Genes Dev blog post pic from Science. jpg

Penn scientists are at the forefront of exploring and pushing back the boundaries of the bewilderingly complex world of RNA.And, Jeremy Wilusz, PhD, a new faculty member in the department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, is adding to that knowledge with a recently published paper in Genes & Development on circular RNAs. Read more

How a Fish-Killing Natural Product Opens Doors to the Basics of Cell Metabolism

October 1, 2014 // Comments Blair Rotenone pic Oct 14

Rotenone exposure is also associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in humans, but the exact mechanism is unknown. In fact, rotenone is used to induce a rodent model of PD. Mitochondrial abnormalities have been well documented in PD patients, often coinciding with elevated markers of oxidative stress. Despite this evidence, not much is known about how nerve cells die because of the stress. Read more

Whole Genome Sequencing of Amish Families Reveals Complexity of Bipolar Disorder

September 16, 2014 // Comments Lonestar

Perelman School genetics professor Maja Bucan, PhD, told me of her deep appreciation for the work going on at the clinic: “From my first visit to the clinic [Clinic for Special Children], I knew I wanted to be part of their team as a collaborator.” Read more

Liver Regeneration Revealed: Hepatocytes Beget Hepatocytes

September 11, 2014 // Comments Prometheus Karl-Ludwig Poggemann Flickr

The regenerating liver is center stage in a modern story about how science similarly reinvents and readjusts itself, with a paper out in an early September issue of Cell Stem Cell from the lab of Ben Stanger. Read more

Double Trouble: How Parasitic Worms Weaken Antiviral Immunity

September 5, 2014 // Comments Artis CM cover warhol worms Sept 14

David Artis, PhD, professor of Microbiology and his team, including first author Lisa Osborne, PhD, demonstrated that mice already infected with parasitic helminths were worse at fighting viral infection. Read more

Making the Summer Count

August 15, 2014 // Comments SUIP_Poster Session_1

Every summer, the news is filled with profiles of summer student programs, and those that are aimed at increased participation by minority students in STEM are no exception. The Summer Undergraduate Internship Program at Penn Medicine is one such program. Read more

A Picture Really is Worth 1000 Words

August 1, 2014 // Comments Talamas winning image 2014

The winners of the Penn Medicine 2014 “Art in Science" can certainly make pretty pictures with fancy microscopes, but there is also a rich story of scientific inquiry behind each. Read more

The Force from Outside In: Cells Sense Surrounding Protein Stiffness for Insider Info

July 11, 2014 // Comments Assoian Bae blog post image final July 14

A new study is shedding light on how cells respond to surrounding “stiff” tissue that can influence cells to go rogue—and ultimately cause disease. A better understanding of that process could help advance the development of treatments for cancers and cardiovascular disease resistant to therapy. An article in Science Signaling... Read more

What’s the Real Target for Attacking Pancreatic Tumors?

June 11, 2014 // Comments Pancreatic cancer ribbon

The lab of Ben Stanger, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, and colleagues, recently showed in a Cancer Cell study that some tumor components, particularly fibroblasts, constrain tumor growth. Read more

2014 Philadelphia Science Festival Recap

May 20, 2014 // Comments

It’s only been a little over two weeks since the end of the 2014 Philadelphia Science Festival, but the inspiration, as well as love and knowledge of science that Penn Medicine faculty, staff, and students shared with members of the public, will last far into the next year.

Lab Week 2014

May 8, 2014 // Comments Lab Week 2014 Rock Your Pride logo

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

Cycling for Rare Diseases

May 1, 2014 // Comments image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/14061615/ea083ced-d221-4295-800d-0e745dcaf7ba.png

The first annual Million Dollar Bike Ride is finally here. On Saturday, May 3, 2014, close to 500 riders and many other volunteers and family members will gather at Highline Park on Penn’s campus to raise funds for and awareness about rare diseases. Read more

Sleep the Night Away with Penn Med Scientists at the Philadelphia Science Festival

April 29, 2014 // Comments PSF sleep blog post image

Sleep -- elusive to some, mysterious to all -- is the topic of a special event at Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium on Wednesday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m. called Sleep: A Bedtime Story, part of the signature programs on the 2014 Philadelphia Science Festival schedule.

An Outdoor Kickoff to the Philadelphia Science Festival

April 23, 2014 // Comments Sci Fest logo outside

Head outdoors this weekend with Penn Medicine to kick off the fourth annual Philadelphia Science Festival.The weather for Saturday and Sunday is predicted to be 0% showers, with highs in the upper 60s and low 70s. Join Penn Medicine faculty, students, and staff at two of the city’s most spectacular...

Using the Penn High Performance Computing Cluster to Unravel the Spider’s Web

April 15, 2014 // Comments Golden Silk Orb Weaver L Church Flickr Creative Commons

Uncovering the genomic architecture of spider silk genes wasn’t top of mind for Benjamin Voight, PhD, when he first came to Penn a few years ago. But he and postdoctoral researcher Paul Babb are now deep into sequencing the whole genomes of two spider species: a Golden Silk Orb Weaver and Darwin's Bark Spider. Read more

Penn Medicine at the 2014 Philadelphia Science Festival

April 4, 2014 // Comments PSF 2011 Carnival Dry ice

PSF 2011 Carnival Dry icePenn Medicine will again play a starring role in the 4th annual Philadelphia Science Festival, a citywide collaboration showcasing science and technology every spring. Read more

Oxygen in our Bones

March 20, 2014 // Comments Vinogradov Nature image

Working with many colleagues, a Penn team published in Nature the first application of 2PLM to directly quantify the physiological environment of blood stem cells, called haematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs. Read more

Beyond the Ivory Tower: Penn’s Neuroscience Grad Students Reach Out During Brain Week, and Beyond

March 18, 2014 // Comments NGG KidsJudge 2013 Synpatic Land

Philadelphia is a cerebral city this spring. To start, every March, Brain Awareness Week brings together institutions worldwide to celebrate the brain. Read more

Transcription Factors Key to Using T Cells Against Cancer, Chronic Infection

March 6, 2014 // Comments Wherry BATF spiral blog post Mar 14

Business is brisk in the lab of John Wherry and his team from the Department of Microbiology and the Institute for Immunology for papers on killer and helper T cells. Two studies -- bound by their focus on transcription factors important in the immune response – have come out of the lab in the last few weeks. And, they both identify potential new targets for cancer immunotherapies. Read more

A Rare-fied Friday at the End of Every February

February 27, 2014 // Comments image from http://aviary.blob.core.windows.net/k-mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp-14030517/8e9c0f27-2e6d-453a-9c54-f890d88b9907.png

Rare Disease Day is an annual event to raise awareness with the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. Read more

Where Do We Go From Here? Public Health and Unconventional Natural Gas Drilling

February 25, 2014 // Comments CEET Symposium flyer Feb 14

Last week the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) and the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania co-hosted a symposium on the public health effects of natural gas drilling operations Read more

Celebrating a Lifetime of Dual Career Success

February 20, 2014 // Comments Armstrongs Clay Clara

The five decades of research of Clara Franzini-Armstrong and Clay Armstrong, hers on electron microscopy of the inner workings of cells and his on ion channels in cell membranes, was recognized recently by their professional society -- the Society of General Physiologists – with a named lecture series. Read more

Cancer in Waiting: Latency in Viral-Based Cancer Explained

February 18, 2014 // Comments image from http://aviary.blob.core.windows.net/k-mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp-14030517/22827cb4-f309-4eb4-8f67-c99412eeb936.png

The lab of Erle Robertson, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology, and program leader of Tumor Virology at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, has been studying how Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpes Virus (KSHV) subverts normal cell machinery to cause cancer for more than a decade. Read more

Could Statins be Used to Fight a Deadly Viral Infection?

February 6, 2014 // Comments Hanta entry path Hannah Barbian

Two Perelman School of Medicine microbiologists may have found a way to use statins, the well-known blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drugs, to fight the hantavirus, a mysterious and lethal microorganism that appeared suddenly in the US southwest over 20 years ago Read more

The “Other”Circulatory System

January 10, 2014 // Comments Kahn JCI image graphic Jan 14

Blood is the life force of animals. But behind the more well-known system of veins, arteries, and capillaries functions the mop-up crew, the vascular network called the lymph system. Read more

Renaissance Biochemist

November 15, 2013 // Comments Dutton head shot sketch Nov 13

Les Dutton, Ph.D., will be awarded the 2013 John Scott Award next week. He will be honored with a medal, certificate, and $12,000 for his "work on the elementary processes of oxidation-reduction and the diverse biological events coupled to it." Dutton is the Eldridge Reeves Johnson Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, the director of the Johnson Foundation for Molecular Biophysics, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and former chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. And an accomplished artist, but more on that later. Read more

Finding Antitumor T cells in a Patient’s Own Cancer for Personalized Therapy

November 12, 2013 // Comments Powell Clinical Cancer Research schematic Nov 13

Patients with tumors that contain increased numbers of T lymphocytes generally survive longer than those with tumors without T-cell involvement, suggesting that T cells with potent antitumor function naturally exist in cancer and control tumor progression. With the exception of melanoma, it has been difficult to identify and isolate the tumor-reactive T cells from common cancers, however, the ability to do so could be used to fight a patient’s own cancer. Read more

Postdocs Building Community, and Experience

November 8, 2013 // Comments Postdoc Symposium poster session Nov 13

Clearly, interest in career issues for postdocs is not new, but ways to expand the postdoc experience to ready for budding careers takes constant creativity and communication. To that end, the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, held its 12th annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium last week. Read more

Cancer Hitchhikers

October 7, 2013 // Comments Simon Cancer Discovery image cancer hitchhiker no label Oct 13 take 2

With this zoomed-in view, the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (AFCRI) lab of Celeste Simon, PhD, and postdoctoral fellow, T.S. Karin Eisinger-Mathason PhD, report in Cancer Discovery about the potential of the collagen-modifying enzyme PLOD2 as a new therapeutic target for the treatment of metastatic undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma. Read more

Hanging Cancer on the Fulcrum of the Acidic Hinge

September 17, 2013 // Comments Roth Cell Reports Acidic Hinge blog post image genomic instability Sept 13

Converging lines of evidence just go to show that there are many types of cancer associated with chromosomal translocations, and likely more to be found. Read more

Developing Nematode Worm Star of Award-winning Video

September 11, 2013 // Comments Murray Zacharias Scope lab Aug 13

Who knew that nematode worms could hold their own in minutes-long videos? John I. Murray, PhD, assistant professor of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoc Amanda L. Zacharias, PhD, produced one of the two award-winning videos in the recent Federation of American... Read more

The Med Days of Summer

August 22, 2013 // Comments PARS 1

On the Penn Med campus, mid-August marks the start of the end for many undergrads and high-school students who are wrapping up lab experiments and making presentations about their work in an array of programs designed to showcase what research is all about. Read more

Cycling for Cancer and Zebrafish

July 25, 2013 // Comments Dutko after race Blog image July 13

James Dutko, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, spent a hot Sunday morning earlier this month cycling in the 41st annual Philadelphia Bike-a-Thon, an annual fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Read more

Opening Science Career Doors Early On

June 24, 2013 // Comments Kareema Dixon May 2013

As a ninth grader at Northern Liberties’ Bodine High School for International Affairs, Kareema Dixon took part in the BioEYES program developed by Jamie Shuda, EdD, Director of Life Science Outreach at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM), Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Little did she know that...

Tweaking T Cells for Transplants

May 30, 2013 // Comments Hancock Blood blog post image May 13

Bone marrow transplants, like the high-profile match between the son of heavyweight fighter Evander Holyfield and 19-year-old Nashville native Darian Craig, profiled in People magazine earlier this month, run the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a life-threatening complication where the donor cells attack the patient’s own cells. BMT procedures replace... Read more

2013 Philadelphia Science Festival Recap

May 14, 2013 // Comments PSF 2013 Carnival Penn tent village 1

Penn Medicine faculty, staff, and students shared their love and knowledge of biomedical science with families, students, and the general public at a dozen events during the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival.

Tau is its Own Worst Enemy

May 7, 2013 // Comments Cohen Nature Struct Mol Bio Blog post schematic Apr 13

In an update to recent research, Todd Cohen, Virginia Lee, and the Penn CNDR team have found an unusual behavior in the protein tau. It is literally its own worst enemy - tau is actually an enzyme that adds an acetyl group to itself, a process called autoacetylation. Read more

Science Communications, One White-Board Video at a Time

May 1, 2013 // Comments FitzGerald Nat Med mouse side by side image Nov 12

In an online video series, Florie Charles, a doctoral student at the University of California at San Francisco, and founder of Youreka Science, simply uses a white board and colored markers (and occasionally a small cut out mouse -- animal, not computer peripheral) to explain findings from recent papers in an accessible, fresh, and engaging way. One of her newest videos happens to feature a recent publication from the lab of Garret FitzGerald, MD, FRS, director of Penn Medicine's Institute of Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Read more

Celebrating the Work of Medical Laboratory Professionals

April 30, 2013 // Comments Lab Week 2013 Poster Winner

To show its gratitude to all laboratory professionals, the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine celebrated Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 22-26, with a host of activities, such as Phillies Night, in appreciation of all the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of staff and faculty members working in more than 30 different laboratories across the Penn campus. Read more

Center for Brain Injury and Repair Presence at Philadelphia Science Festival Reaches Science Enthusiasts of all Ages

April 22, 2013 // Comments PSF 2013 Carnival Brain Tent 1 cropped

This year the Center for Brain Injury and Repair is reaching audiences of all stripes at the Philadelphia Science Festival, with their message of how to mind your brain from concussions with hand-on demos. Read more

Truckin’ Molecular Motors: The Tilt and Wobble of Myosin-V

April 17, 2013 // Comments Goldman Biophysical Journal cover Mar 13

The labs of senior authors Yale E. Goldman, and Erika L.F. Holzbaur, both in the Physiology department, have been studying molecular motors for close to a combined five decades

Penn to Celebrate Big Ideas in Science at the 3rd Annual Philadelphia Science Festival

April 16, 2013 // Comments PSF logo 2013

Penn’s signature event at the 3rd annual Philadelphia Science Festival next week is a sure sign of the times. “Big Ideas: Funding and Innovation” draws on current themes and reminders of where the bright ideas really come from.

Penn Med at the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival

April 8, 2013 // Comments PSF logo 2013

Penn Medicine will play a starring role in the Philadelphia Science Festival again this year. The Festival is a citywide collaboration showcasing science and technology every April. This year it runs from April 19 - 28, 10 days to celebrate the region’s strengths in science and technology, bringing together more than 100 partners from academia to museums to restaurants. Read more

Defining the Traits of Transmitted HIV-1 to Make Better Vaccines

March 29, 2013 // Comments HIV Red Ribbon by Trygve.u Mar 13

Knowing the traits of HIV-1 strains capable of establishing new infections could be important for AIDS vaccine development. Read more

Spring Fever at the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival

March 15, 2013 // Comments PSF logo

The Center for Brain Injury and Repair will again participate in Science Day at the Ball Park, as part of the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival

Heart Research Hits Close to Home for a New Penn Med Prof

February 20, 2013 // Comments Voight Ben desk shot Jan 13

 To celebrate February as American Heart Month, the News Blog is highlighting some of the latest heart-centric news and stories from all areas of Penn Medicine. “I know this sounds like a cliché, but one of the main reasons I’m interested in learning about the genetic basis of heart... Read more

The Many Faces of Metformin

January 30, 2013 // Comments Metformin blog post goat's rue Jan 13

Metformin, the most widely prescribed diabetes drug, has come full circle from a home remedy in the European medieval apothecary called goat’s rue to now being investigated for a host of modern chronic conditions. Read more

When Art Meets Science

January 10, 2013 // Comments Guo Dreyfuss Cell snRNP cover 2012

Frank Oppenheimer, founder of the famed science museum in San Francisco, the Exploratorium, called artists and scientists “the official ‘noticers’ of society,” adding that “they notice things that other people either have never learned to see or have learned to ignore, and communicate those ‘noticings’ to others.” Lili Guo, a... Read more

So You Think You’re Exhausted? War-Weary T Cells Have Us All Beat

December 20, 2012 // Comments Wherry Immunity image Dec 12

This time of year has me pretty run down, with birthdays, holidays, concerts, you name it -- all manner of good and bad stress that weighs on one’s immune system. But I never knew my T cells could get exhausted, too. Two papers from the lab of E. John Wherry,... Read more

Dynamic Clots Make for Dynamic Research

December 18, 2012 // Comments Weisel platelets cover 2012

“We showed for the first time that clotting is reversible,” says John Weisel, Ph.D., professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, in contrast to a long-standing assumption that it isn’t. Weisel and colleagues showed how these sometimes dangerous knots of protein and cells are actually a dynamic, mutable structure this month... Read more

A “Modest Proposal:” Spreading the Wealth from Intellectual Property to Encourage New Players in Drug Development

November 21, 2012 // Comments Garret FitzGerald April 2012 lab SLP

Garret FitzGerald, MD, chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Director of the Institute for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has long said the current drug-development system in the United States is in need of change, “representing an unsustainable model.” He suggests... Read more

What Would Dr. Cohn Think?

October 25, 2012 // Comments Cohn floral Dress Goddard 80s

This month marks three years since the late Mildred Cohn, PhD, the Benjamin Rush Professor Emerita of Physiological Chemistry at the time of her retirement from the Penn department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, passed away. Her early work using magnetic forces to study the structure of molecules led to the... Read more

Lowering the Age of Scientific Independence

October 4, 2012 // Comments Sonnenberg horizontal lab 3 Sept 12

Greg Sonnenberg, PhD, research associate in the Division of Gastroenterology and the Institute for Immunology, is one of 14 early-career scientists supported this year with an NIH Director's Early Independence Award. These support exceptional early-career scientists to move directly into independent research positions by essentially omitting the traditional post-doctoral training period. Read more

NIH MERIT Awards Give Researchers Long-term Stability

September 20, 2012 // Comments Millar Dev Cell image Nov 10

Earlier this summer, Sarah Millar, PhD, professor of Dermatology and Cell and Developmental Biology, received an unusual phone call from Carl Baker, MD PhD, Health Scientist Administrator at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Read more

Reconciling ENCODE and CODIS

September 18, 2012 // Comments DNA image From tmkeesey httpwww.flickr.comphotoskeesey3746669149

The use of DNA in forensics is powerful yet subject to uncertainties. Jennifer Wagner, JD, PhD, a Research Associate at the Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn CIGHT), and Sara Katsanis, MS, an Associate in Research at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy at Duke University (Duke IGSP) conducted an exhaustive search of the literature and genome databases to put forensic markers used in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) into a context of current understanding of the human genome. Their findings are available in an early online issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Read more

Scientists Who Bridge the Gap: “Rare Birds Indeed”

September 14, 2012 // Comments

This summer, Garret FitzGerald, MD, chair of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), testified at a briefing on the Hill organized by American Association for the Advancement of Science that the current drug-development system in the United States is flawed and in need of change. Read more

Taking Advantage of Mother Nature, Delivering Drugs using Red Blood Cells

July 31, 2012 // Comments Weisel Science cover SEM thrombus July 09

Vladimir R. Muzykantov, MD, PhD, professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, at the Perelman School of Medicine, is devising a recombinant version of thrombomodulin -- a natural anticoagulant present in human blood vessels -- that can be injected in the bloodstream of animals, where it binds to RBCs and circulates for a long time as a prodrug that gets activated at sites of thrombosis, preventing closing up of blood vessels. Read more

It’s a Matter of Presentation

July 26, 2012 // Comments Marks Immunity blog post graph abstract AP3

A research article in a recent issue of Immunity from the lab of Mickey Marks, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, in part explains the recurrent bacterial infections in patients with a rare genetic disease called Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome type 2. Read more

Redirecting T Cells to Fight Cancer

July 17, 2012 // Comments June Immunocore cell image Oct 10

Penn Medicine is building a war chest of approaches to enhance the ability of T cells to attack as many cancer types as possible. Read more

Mutations in a Common Molecular Motor Cause Rare Diseases

June 19, 2012 // Comments Holzbaur Neuron blog post image June 12

The lab of Erika Holzbaur, a professor of Physiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, has been using live-cell imaging to get a better handle on what happens when the transport of cellular cargo goes off track, and how that may be the start of neurodegenerative diseases. In this case, a Parkinson’s-like disorder and a hereditary form of motor neuron disease. Read more

Among the “Unsung Heroes” of Patient Care

April 26, 2012 // Comments PLM NationalLabWeek_2012_forWeb

The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PLM) is celebrating National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 22 to 28. Medical laboratory professionals are among the unsung heroes of patient care - the team behind the scenes who are “doing the best with every test.” Read more

What’s Happening the Rest of the Week at the Philadelphia Science Festival?

April 24, 2012 // Comments CIMG4426

The Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival tents have all been folded and hauled away. There have already been four nights of non-stop science cafes at local watering holes. But, there are still six more days of the festival to go, and Penn Medicine faculty will be participating at events on most of those days. Read more

Hat Trick for Penn Medicine at Philadelphia Science Festival this Monday

April 19, 2012 // Comments PSF logo

On Monday, April 23, Penn Medicine faculty will be particpating in three events at the Philadelphia Science Festival. Read more

Philadelphia Science Festival Starts this Weekend!

April 16, 2012 // Comments PSF logo

It's less than a week away! The Festival, a citywide collaboration showcasing science and technology every April, will run from April 20-29. Penn students, staff, and faculty will be participating in all kinds of events throughout the entire festival. Read more

Penn Med at the Science Festival!

March 26, 2012 // Comments PSF_logo_RGB

Penn Medicine will play a starring role in the Philadelphia Science Festival again this year. The Festival is a citywide collaboration showcasing science and technology every April. This year it runs from April 20-29 -- 10 days to celebrate the region’s strengths in science and technology, bringing together more than 105 partners from academia to museums to restaurants. Read more

Cell Home Movies

March 13, 2012 // Comments Holzbaur JCB Model for blog post Mar 12

In a recent Journal of Cell Biology study Erika Holzbaur, PhD, a professor of Physiology, postdoctoral researcher Sandra Maday, Ph.D., and Karen E. Wallace, all from the Perelman School of Medicine, examined autophagosomes in neurons from transgenic mice reared with florescent green biomarker. These neurons, when grown in culture, send out axon-like projections, which grew 1 mm in two days, making it easier for the team to record movies of the sacs moving along the projection. The team saw the sacs form and engulf cargo at the end of the projections farthest from the nucleus, and mature into the degradative autolysosomes as they moved toward the cell body. The autolysosomes also become increasingly acidic as they move along the axon, most likely to aid in more efficient degradation. Read more

To Sleep, Perchance to Synthesize Proteins

March 5, 2012 // Comments Frank Neuron image Feb 09

Sleep keeps neuroscientist Marcos Frank awake, studying the importance of slumber during early life. Building on his research showing that the brain during sleep is fundamentally different from the brain during wakefulness, Frank an associate professor of Neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that cellular changes in the sleeping brain may promote the formation of memories. In the newest study from the lab, published in the March 1 issue of Current Biology, the team found that sleep is associated with increased brain protein synthesis and transcription of messenger RNAs. Read more

Stretched to the Breaking Point

February 10, 2012 // Comments Smith Doug Exp Neuro CAI and DAI varicosities Feb 12

With this year’s Super Bowl setting a record for being the most-viewed show in U.S. television history, concussions – more technically, mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) – have probably been on many a mind this week. TBI has long been a leading cause of death and disability, with over 1.7 million cases in the US alone each year. Read more

“A Culture of Collegiality”: Research Collaboration Leads to Stronger Outcome for Basic Science of Schizophrenia

February 2, 2012 // Comments Carlson PNAS Dysbindin image Oct 11

Research from the Department of Psychiatry could have ended up as four or five different interesting papers with moderate impact in the field. Instead, we were able to tell a complete story by linking potential genetic risk factors of schizophrenia to a functional disruption in how the brain responds to sound. We then linked those processes together by identifying reduced activity in special nerve cells that are designed to make other cells in the brain work together at a very fast pace. Read more

The Whole Enchilada: New Method for High-Res Brain Images

January 27, 2012 // Comments Reddy Nature Med Blog 3 panel JPEG image Jan 12

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides exquisite structural detail of the brain, for example, to detect tumors or relative size of regions. However, current MRI methods are not capable of imaging the distribution of neurotransmitters – the brain’s chemical messengers -- across the whole brain. A new Nature Medicine paper out this week from Perelman School of Medicine researchers led by Ravinder Reddy, PhD, professor of Radiology, describes a first-of-its-kind MRI technique (GluCEST) to measure glutamate concentration and local changes across the whole brain. The technique is based on chemical exchange effects of protons in water. Read more

An Epilogue to a Protein Saga – But Not the Last Word

January 25, 2012 // Comments Lee Cohen TDP43 image EMBO J blog post Jan 12

Every saga needs occasional updates. TDP-43 -- a protein important in gene expression that can undergo pathologic misfolding -- is no different. Earlier reports on the protein were outlined in a Penn Med news blog, which describes its pathology and genetics related to neurodegenerative disease. But now the field is maturing and researchers are linking TDP-43 to a well-established clinical area - the role of oxidative stress in the demise of nerve cells. Read more

Addressing Unmet Needs: The Science Behind Rare Cholesterol Diseases

August 11, 2011 // Comments Rader with Gel 2010

How the rare informs the common is becoming a – well – more common theme in biomedical research. Working with people who have rare genetic conditions provides researchers with a unique window into learning the role specific genes play in more common diseases. Read more

A Medical Translation Long in the Making: From a Millennia-Old Mutation to New Hope for Treating AIDS

March 22, 2011 // Comments Zinc-finger

A genetic mistake that arose thousands of years ago spares rare HIV-infected individuals the ravages of AIDS. Researchers at Penn’s School of Medicine are in the midst of translating the language of ancient genetic mistakes into today’s cures. Read more

The On-Going Saga of a Disease Protein

January 20, 2011 // Comments Van Deerlin Nature Genetics TDP-43 inclusions Feb 10

Misfolded TDP-43 proteins in neurons of brain tissue (brown structures indicated by arrows) Credit: Felix Geser, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Science, if anything, is incremental. It's a slow accumulation of knowledge punctuated by Eureka moments. As the years go by, one of my favorite aspects of... Read more

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