Penn Medicine News Blog: Posts by Steve Graff

Steve GraffSteve came to Penn Medicine with five years’ experience in health and science communications and media relations. He has worked in journalism, at government agencies, such as the National Cancer Institute and U.S. Department of Energy, in the private sector as an environmental scientist, and most recently in public relations at an academic medical center covering oncology and basic science departments. His experiences include spearheading social media activities for organizations, blogging, internal communications, conferences and media strategy and outreach. Steve graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a BS in Biology and the University of Colorado, Boulder with an MA in Journalism.

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Moonshot Gains Momentum at DC Summit

July 11, 2016 // Comments 6a017c3873ae3e970b01b7c87a1445970b

It’s not easy to galvanize and unify the cancer research field on a national level, but that’s what Vice President Joe Biden has successfully done since he took the lead on the Moonshot Initiative six month ago. He has engaged people from all sectors, and empowered them to start thinking... Read more

Penn at ASCO: Immunotherapy and Much More

June 8, 2016 // Comments Lynn and david

Immunotherapy once again dominated headlines during the annual meeting for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago, the medical conference that drew a record-breaking 35,000 oncologists and other health care professionals from the United States and around the world this year. That these stories float to the top... Read more

Breathing Better Under Pressure

May 11, 2016 // Comments Slide-image-3

The prick of a strategically placed needle is felt by nearly two million Americans every year looking to reap the benefits of acupuncture. Back problems, migraines, allergies: The 2,500-year-old Eastern medical technique has been shown to help relieve pain or discomfort stemming from a host of ailments. At Penn’s Abramson... Read more

Reprioritizing HIV: A Q&A with Med Student Robert Bonacci

May 9, 2016 // Comments RBonacci_Headshot (4)

Last week, a study on the falling HIV infections rates in the U.S. from Perelman School of Medicine student Robert Bonacci delivered good news, but it also presented a reality about the shortcomings in the nation’s strategy to combat the disease, as well as the health disparities that exist today.... Read more

Penn Med Students Celebrate Match Day 2016! (video)

March 22, 2016 // Comments

On Friday, doctors-to-be from the Perelman School of Medicine gathered at the historical Harrison Auditorium at the Penn Museum, with its coffered dome and stone walls, to celebrate Match Day--the annual event where medical students from across the country find out where they're headed for residency training. There was a...

Let’s Take a “Micro-break” and Talk about Standing Desks

February 26, 2016 // Comments Standing

As news media professionals working for a health system, the people in Penn Medicine’s Communications office are not only an inquisitive bunch, but also a health-conscious one. So when the opportunity to get standing desks, a workplace trend sweeping through cube farms and office spaces around the world, came our... Read more

Abramson Cancer Center Joins Nation’s Cancer Centers to Urge HPV Vaccine

January 27, 2016 // Comments Hpv

Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) joined 68 other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated centers today urging for increased human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in both girls and boys for the prevention of cancer. Each year in the United States, 14 million new HPV infections occur, and 27,000 men and women are diagnosed... Read more

Vice President Biden Kicks off “Moonshot” Effort at Abramson Cancer Center (PHOTOS)

January 22, 2016 // Comments Biden

Days after President Obama announced the “moonshot” to find a cancer cure during his State of the Union, Vice President Biden visited Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center to kick off the national effort he said aims to “accelerate the progress already underway” – much of which is happening right here. "You're... Read more

What’s the Big Idea? Cancer Leaders to Talk Precision Medicine

January 6, 2016 // Comments Lab

In a few weeks, top minds in the city and state will gather to discuss one of the hottest cancer topics in healthcare: precision medicine. It’s a term many have heard, seen on a billboard, or even experienced, but what does the omnipresent buzzword really mean today—and for tomorrow? For... Read more

Penn’s HIV Research: Breaking Down HBO's VICE Special Report

December 7, 2015 // Comments image from

Last Tuesday, on World AIDS Day, VICE aired its HIV special report “Countdown to Zero” on HBO, an hour-long documentary that focused on some promising scientific advances—including one happening right here at Penn Medicine—that are putting us steps closer to a vaccine and a potential cure. Decades in the making,... Read more

Debunking Hospital Lore (Again)

November 11, 2015 // Comments Landing-education

It seems to come up every July, when the new batch of residents, most fresh out of medical school, begins their hospital rotations. Will the quality of health care decrease during this changeover, as less-experienced doctors move in and start to treat patients? Results from hundreds of studies over the... Read more

Abramson Cancer Center Raises $3.5 Million – and Takes a Selfie (Photos)

October 15, 2015 // Comments Selfie

We put together a slideshow of photographs to give a glimpse inside the Abramson Cancer Center’s (ACC) first “Philly Fights Cancer” fundraiser, but perhaps the best picture of the night was snapped Ellen-Degeneres-at-the-Oscars-style on an iPhone during the program. “Everyone get ready," said Tracy Davidson, NBC10 anchor and emcee for... Read more

Drug Pricing Debate Once Again Ignited

October 6, 2015 // Comments Earnings-on-drugs-1362499408_53

A few weeks ago, news broke that the founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, bought the 62-year-old drug daraprim, only to turn around and up the cost by 5,000 percent. The move by Shkreli, who said the revenue would fund research to develop better treatments for toxoplasmosis, the parasitic infection... Read more

No Grey Area: Perelman Holds 20th White Coat Ceremony (photos)

August 24, 2015 // Comments

Looking back on the founding of the Perelman School of Medicine 250 years ago of course reveals the major changes that have occurred in medical education, but you don’t have to go back that far to see notable differences. Advances in technology have moved at breakneck speed and the education... Read more

Students Explore Health Careers Across Penn Campus (photos)

July 29, 2015 // Comments Summer camp

The University of Pennsylvania’s OneHealth Initiative has shined a light on the substantive amount of crossover and collaboration among Penn’s health schools. From ticks to cancer detection to antibiotic resistance, we’ve touched on a lot of topics involving faculty from around the whole campus. But let us put the research... Read more

A Mutation, a New Drug, and a New Life

July 10, 2015 // Comments IMG_2462_large

Lois Hahn couldn’t have been happier on Tuesday. The 71-year-old wife and grandmother was back at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, with her son and husband by her side, for a follow-up visit with her medical oncologist, Alexander Perl, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology/Oncology in the ACC. She’s feeling and... Read more

Buzz Around Immunotherapy Continues at ASCO

June 5, 2015 // Comments Twitter

I read a very witty and apt tweet at this week’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting—the medical conference attended by over 30,000 oncologists and others in the field from all over the world: “Immunotherapy is like the hashtag—it’s here to stay.” The pithy 100 or so characters—replete... Read more

Henry A. Jordan Medical Education Center Ribbon Cutting to Kick off 250th Celebration Weekend (video)

May 11, 2015 // Comments

A highlight of the 250th birthday celebrations for the Perelman School of Medicine -- the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center -- will take place this Friday with the Jordan family, students, alumni, faculty and leadership. The event kicks off a celebratory weekend that...

Roberts Proton Therapy Center Celebrates 5 Years (Photos)

April 23, 2015 // Comments 15

Congratulations to the Roberts Proton Therapy Center on its five year anniversary! On Wednesday night, the department of Radiation Oncology held an event in the Smilow Center for Translational Research to celebrate this significant milestone with faculty, staff, Penn Medicine leadership, patients and their families, and the Roberts family, including... Read more

Measles Outbreaks and Vaccinations: Does it Change Anything?

April 10, 2015 // Comments Vaccines

In most communities in the United States today, the measles vaccination rate is a relatively high 94 percent. But some areas fall short of that average for various reasons: lack of awareness, lack of access, and a growing vaccine refusal movement. With one of the lowest vaccination rates, Pennsylvania currently... Read more

Penn Med Students Celebrate Match Day (video)

March 24, 2015 // Comments

This past Friday, students all over the country found out where they'd be completing their residency training at our annual Match Day event. Mark Attiah (M'15) says it best: "All the sweat, the blood, the tears, the late nights, the frustrations...all are coalesced into this one envelope that you see...

Match Day at Perelman: The University of Virginia. Home.

March 23, 2015 // Comments Third Blog post

On Friday, March 20, 159 students from the Perelman School of Medicine found out, one by one, where they are headed for residency training during an emotional event filled with lots of cheering, hugs and more cheering. What an exhilarating day! For our last blog, Anna Jesus shares her Match... Read more

Match Day at Perelman: 'Congratulations! You Have Matched!'

March 18, 2015 // Comments 11016108_10101981152057206_7706614226664243467_n

Each year, Perelman School of Medicine students and medical students across the country count down to annual “Match Day,” which marks one of the most important days in a medical student's career. Friday, March 20, students will come together with their classmates and wait for the envelope that will tell... Read more

Match Day at Perelman: Family and French Countryside Before the Big Day

March 12, 2015 // Comments FullSizeRender (9)

Each year, Perelman School of Medicine students and medical students across the country count down to annual “Match Day,” which marks one of the most important days in a medical student's career. Friday, March 20, students will come together with their classmates and wait for the envelope that will tell... Read more

Diving into Penn's African American History

February 27, 2015 // Comments Resolver

During this year, when we are celebrating our 250th anniversary, it is important to recognize the contributions of African Americans to building the institution we are today. Our archives provide a rich source of information that reveals the importance of personal resilience and significant institutional milestones. The medical school opened... Read more

A New Space for a New Era in Medical Education: Jordan Center Opens its Doors (PHOTOS)

January 29, 2015 // Comments

Today, the Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center is officially open for classes! But it’s also Throwback Thursday. So here’s a slide show of photos that starts back in 2013, when Penn Medicine began construction on its new home for medical education, and ends with a few shots of... Read more

Penn Center for AIDS Research: ‘We’ve Come a Long Way, But the Battle is Far From Over'

January 28, 2015 // Comments IMG_1033

Penn CFAR co-directors James Hoxie, MD, and Ronald Collman, MD Celebrating the Perelman School of Medicine’s 250 years has us looking back at some of the great accomplishments and milestones from all corners of the campus, as well as those that have come out of the longstanding collaborations with our... Read more

Antibiotic Resistance: The Med, Vet Connection

January 16, 2015 // Comments Photo 1

Antibiotic resistance is a pressing public health issue in America today. Infections from so-called “superbugs” that can’t be beat with our arsenal of drugs are responsible for over 23,000 deaths a year and two million illnesses. And the cost to treat these infections? About $20 billion a year in excess... Read more

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2014!

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...

Making Better Sense of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

December 10, 2014 // Comments AML-M1

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is one of those cancers so genetically complex, with its many chromosomal abnormalities and mutations, that it has been hard for doctors to find clinically meaningful information to sort out this diversity. So when three gene sequencing studies from Penn Medicine show patterns that may help... Read more

Looking for Answers in the Genes of ‘Exceptional’ Cancer Patients

December 1, 2014 // Comments Bile duct cancer

The little-known metastatic bile duct cancer—or cholangiocarcinoma—is one of the toughest cancers out there to beat. It’s usually caught late and requires an aggressive round of chemotherapy and radiation that, in most cases, only stabilizes it briefly. It can come roaring back and often leads to death. But that wasn’t... Read more

ID Week Comes to Philadelphia

October 9, 2014 // Comments IDweek2014_4Cfull

The annual infection diseases conference known as ID Week kicked off in Philadelphia yesterday, and it couldn’t be more timely. And it’s not just because of Ebola. A slew of other outbreaks have been in the public eye as of late: enterovirus, MERS, dengue fever. The program organizers have shifted... Read more

Icing on the Cake: Nation's Oldest Medical School Kicks Off Its 250th Birthday Year

September 9, 2014 // Comments

The Perelman School of Medicine kicked off its 250th birthday year with a cake-cutting celebration hosted by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, PhD, and J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine and Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania for the Health System, along with... Read more

Two Diseases Can’t Keep ACC Patient off His Bike

September 8, 2014 // Comments Photo (2)

Abramson Cancer Center patient Marc Barag started training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer about two years ago—he just didn’t know it. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and enduring 96-hour sessions of chemotherapy, Barag decided to jump on an exercise bike he spotted on the infusion center floor one day to... Read more

Cancer Patient Shows Us Radiation Therapy through a Different Lens

August 28, 2014 // Comments

Thomas Ashley, a seasoned Philadelphia filmmaker, has a message for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the prospect of undergoing radiation therapy: It's not as scary as it seems. He's telling his story in the form of a new video he produced that documents his own experience as a... Read more

Ebola Prompts Extraordinary Precautions in Hospitals

August 22, 2014 // Comments Article-2714168-20347B4A00000578-650_634x482

We’ve all seen the vivid footage on the news these past few weeks: Two hospital workers donned in full body hazmat suits and respirators helping the Americans who fell victim to the Ebola virus out of an ambulance and into air-tight rooms. To many, it seems like the best way... Read more

Penn Medicine Remembers Victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight: A Loss to the HIV/AIDS Community

July 25, 2014 // Comments Ribbon

WHYY’s Radio Times’ show last Friday focused on much of the progress that’s been made in the world of HIV/AIDS research and care, but there was one terrible set back that had to be addressed. Earlier that morning, news broke that the Malaysia Airlines plane struck down over the Ukraine... Read more

Summer Brings More Ticks—and a New Fight Against Them

July 2, 2014 // Comments Tick

Ticks of Pennsylvania beware. A new bill expected to be signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett will educate potential victims about you and the Lyme disease you carry, track cases, and pinpoint where you like to hang out. It’s not looking good. The bill—named the Lyme and Related Tick-Borne... Read more

Eye in the Sky Capturing Construction of New Medical Education Center

June 18, 2014 // Comments Blog post photo 1

Every day around here is different—but last Wednesday took it to new heights. A few colleagues and I ended up on top of the Penn Tower garage counting down a liftoff. “Four, three, two, one.” And with that, a mini helicopter (well, technically a hexacopter) took to the skies, right... Read more

Who is the Class of 2014? A Snap Shot of the Perelman School of Medicine Graduates

May 30, 2014 // Comments PR-FY14 Good News May-2014_v8-graphic

The Perelman School of Medicine has a history of graduating students with exceptional skills and bright futures, and the class of 2014 does not disappoint. One hundred and seventy one students—along with their friends, families and faculty—gathered at the Kimmel Center last week for commencement to say goodbye to years... Read more

Standing Up to Pancreatic Cancer is Tough—But Not Impossible

April 12, 2014 // Comments 483333001

Cancer Researchers and Celebrities Come Together for a Stand Up to Cancer Event to Announce New “Dream Team” “It can run, but it can’t hide.” That’s the message Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, the Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research in the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) and the Perelman School of... Read more

Match Day 2014: "Episode IV: A New Hope"

March 25, 2014 // Comments Karthik

"Match Day has come and gone." In his final post, medical student Karthik Muthuswamy tells us how Match Day played out for him, and where he's heading for his residency training. Congrats to Karthik and all the students! And if you've never experienced Match Day at the Perelman School Medicine,... Read more

Match Day 2014: "Episode 2--The Middle Chapter"

March 18, 2014 // Comments image from

This year for our annual Match Day blog series, Karthik Muthuswamy will be sharing his thoughts and perspective on his own Match Day experience. Check back throughout the week for new posts! Episode 2--The Middle Chapter "So I pull out my phone and there it was: a new email..." By:... Read more

2014 Match Day at Perelman School of Medicine: "Episode I (The Prequel)"

March 17, 2014 // Comments Karthik_m_Cropped

It happens every March here at the Perelman School of Medicine. Graduating medical students come together for “Match Day” with their classmates and wait for the envelope that will tell them where they are headed for their residency training. This year for our annual Match Day blog series, Karthikeyan Muthuswamy...

OncoLink Celebrates 20 Years!

March 14, 2014 // Comments Oncolink-108

Creator Joel Goldwein, MD, Honored with “Visionary Award” at Anniversary Event Before there was Yahoo or Google, there was OncoLink—one of the first web sites to provide to cancer information, or really any information, on the internet. And it started right here at Penn Medicine. Today, 20 years later, it’s... Read more

MLK Day at Penn Medicine: Celebrating His Legacy—and Ways to Give Back

January 20, 2014 // Comments Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Here at Penn Medicine, we are celebrating his birthday—and lifelong legacy—by serving our communities and patients with “Days of Caring” events over the next month as a way to give... Read more

Penn’s Scheie Eye Institute Explores New Treatment to Slow Degenerative Eye Disorder

December 13, 2013 // Comments IMG_4849

Right now, patients with keratoconus, a degenerative disease of the cornea that affects one in every 2,000 Americans, don’t have very many treatment options. They can get contact lenses to keep up with their declining vision, or eventually, may require a corneal transplant if they become intolerant to contact lens.... Read more

When Kids with Autism Grow Up

October 21, 2013 // Comments Brodkin, Edward

The face of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often one of a child’s. But, as a slew of government statistics, advocacy groups and high-profile newspaper articles have reminded us as of late, kids with ASD eventually become adults. In fact, 45,000 to 50,000 kids with ASD reach adulthood every year—and... Read more

Penn Doctor Heads to White House for Affordable Care Act Awareness Event with Sec. of Health Sebelius

September 23, 2013 // Comments Photo

One of the biggest changes to the health care system is here: the individual mandate. Millions of uninsured or underinsured can now go online or talk to certified application counselors to find insurance, see if they are eligible for federal help and buy coverage. But with this new rollout—and perhaps... Read more

Penn Holds White Coat Ceremony, But First a ‘Game of Thrones’ and Sketch Comedy

August 27, 2013 // Comments IMG_3855

The White Coat Ceremony doesn’t really kick off medical school, many of you may not know. Technically, it starts days before, with lectures, group exercises, trips to the library and even patient interaction. OK, they may be more on the fun side, but everyone certainly learns something during orientation week... Read more

High School Students from Around the World Attend Medical School Camp at Penn

August 1, 2013 // Comments IMG_3421

If you heard a bunch of high school students scream at the top of their lungs “Don’t kill the patient!” last week at the Penn Medicine Clinical Simulation Center at Rittenhouse, relax. Everyone is alive and well—it was just “Laparoscopic Olympics,” one of the many activities from the Perelman School... Read more

Lessons from Across the Pond: Should Radiologists be the Gatekeepers of Medical Imaging?

July 5, 2013 // Comments Jha3486

Big changes are coming to the US health care system—some in response to the mounting scrutiny of medical imaging. New task force recommendations, the Choosing Wisely campaign, and Affordable Care Act policies are all attempting to curtail overtesting—with CT scans, MRIs and any other screening often ordered unnecessarily—that can drive... Read more

The New Adventures of Hayley Goldbach (’15): A Week in Haiti

June 25, 2013 // Comments Cropped-img_07061

Before she fully dives into the communications piece of the NBC News Global Health and Media Fellowship (next stop: India), Perelman School of Medicine student Hayley Goldbach scrubbed in for a few procedures at the L’Hopital Bernard Mevs in Haiti. In a second blog post for this series, Hayley shares... Read more

From Haiti to 30 Rock: The New Adventures of Hayley Goldbach (’15)

June 11, 2013 // Comments Hayley goldbach

We first met—and followed—Penn Medicine medical student Hayley Goldbach (M’15) almost two years ago when she blogged about her experiences in Botswana, as part of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership. We got a peek at her work at the dermatology clinic and what’s it like to study vulvar cancer in HIV positive... Read more

Penn Medicine Graduation: What’s Next for the Class of 2013?

May 13, 2013 // Comments

Yesterday was the Perelman School of Medicine’s graduation at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, and for most of the students that means goodbye medical school and hello residency. So where will the 84 men and 76 women be heading as they embark on the next phase of their lives?... Read more

Boston Tragedy Highlights Need to Implement Effective PTSD Therapies

April 26, 2013 // Comments Foa 2010 diCarlo

The recent events in Boston remind us how important it is to help people, children and families affected by such tragedies get the most effective mental health treatments out there. The good news is, over the years, evidence-based therapies (EBT), like prolonged exposure therapy, where patients with posttraumatic stress disorder... Read more

Penn Student Policy Group Takes Impactful, Concise Message to DC

April 12, 2013 // Comments Groupv2

Back in December, when the chatter about budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health started getting louder, Penn PhD students Michael Allegrezza and Shaun O’Brien decided it was time to join the conversation and advocate. They wanted to bring that on-the-ground scientist voice into the mix but knew it... Read more

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