Lunchtime Seminar Series


FOCUS sponsors a Lunchtime Seminar Series that covers topics related to:

  • women's health research
  • professional development for academic physicians
  • current medical issues ("hot topics" in health care)

This interactive one-hour format provides School of Medicine faculty with diverse perspectives on a variety of medical and career development topics; offers opportunities for faculty presentations to Penn colleagues from multiple departments and with various areas of academic expertise; and promotes networking within the School of Medicine, the Hospital, and across the University. The Seminar Series is popular and well-attended by men and women faculty.

Afaf and facultySessions on women's health research are presented by multidisciplinary speakers with expertise in a variety of women's health issues including, e.g., breast cancer, hormone replacement, osteoporosis, depression, obesity, lung cancer, and multiple sclerosis. The portion of the Series devoted to professional development includes such topics as time management, conflict resolution, negotiation, managing a laboratory, balancing work and family, presentation skills, financial planning, mentoring, writing for publication, and "promotion 101." Finally, a host of timely, controversial medical topics are presented in what is essentially a "Grand Rounds" for the Medical School. These sessions include such topics as concerns about the avian flu epidemic; the complexities of coping with medical malpractice; how to reduce the number of uninsured while balancing cost issues; the effects of sleep deficit; and autism spectrum disorder, to list a few.

Presenters generally include faculty from the School of Medicine as well as from other Schools across the University. Speakers may include anthropologists, bioethicists, economists, lawyers, medical historians, sociologists, psychologists, as well as physicians and researchers, all of whom offer fresh perspective to a broad range of medical and professional development topics.

WIM- Davies 2013

2014 - 2015 Current Seminar Series

| sep | oct | nov | dec | jan | feb | mar | apr | may | jun | jul | aug |

*Note: FOCUS is in the process of planning additional presentations for the Seminar Series so please check here for updates.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 (Tuesday)
, 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Penn Tower Conference Room, Bridge level

Daniel J. Rader, MD (Slides accessible here)
Seymour Gray Professor of Molecular Medicine
Chair, Department of Genetics
Chief, Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics, Department of Medicine
Associate Director, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women:
A Focus on the Use of Statins

Dr. Rader will discuss the issues involving the use of statins in women to prevent a first cardiovascular event, including cardiovascular risk assessment in women and both the benefits as well as the downsides (such as muscle pain and risk of diabetes) associated with statin use.


BIO: Dr. Rader is the Seymour Gray Professor of Molecular Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves as the Chair of Genetics and Chief of the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics in the Department of Medicine and is Associate Director of Penn’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at Penn. Dr. Rader also serves as Director of Translational Science for the Penn’s Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Rader’s research focuses on genetic and pharmacologic regulation of lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis, and he directs a translational research program focusing on human genetics of lipid disorders and atherosclerosis and novel approaches to treatment of dyslipidemia and regression of atherosclerosis. He led the scientific and clinical development of a first-in-class inhibitor of microsomal transfer protein for the treatment of severe hypercholesterolemia which is now on the market. He has a particular interest in HDL metabolism and function, and novel approaches to targeting HDL metabolism and reverse cholesterol transport in the treatment, prevention, and regression of atherosclerosis. He has been a leader in the translation of novel findings from human genetics into new biological understanding of mechanism in the area of lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis. Dr. Rader trained in internal medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital and in lipid research at the National Institutes of Health. He has been on the Penn faculty since 1994. Dr. Rader is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the Institute of Medicine. He is a recipient of several awards including the Clinical Research Award from the American Heart Association in 2012. Dr. Rader is a frequently invited speaker nationally and internationally on his basic and translational research in lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis

OCTOBER 29, 2014 (Wednesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Penn Tower Conference Room, Bridge level

Sigrid C. Veasey, MD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Sleep Medicine
Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

The Costs of Skimping on Sleep

We have just 24 hours in a day to accomplish an impressive number of tasks. A few hours less sleep per night can add up to a 1000 extra hours per year to complete all we need to do, but what is the price of short sleep? New research in humans and in animal models suggests we pay a price indeed compromising many physiological processes and brain function. The latest work from the Veasey lab shows loss of specific neurons, an irreversible consequence of sleep loss. The talk will integrate the latest human and animal research for all to decide where to balance obligations and sleep.


BIO: Dr. Sigrid Veasey is a physician scientist who has developed a major NIH-funded program of translational research in neural injury in sleep disorders. Recently her lab has been exploring the extent of neuronal injury incurred with short sleep, sleep disruption and shift work conditions. Her group discovered that select groups of neurons in the brain are lost upon extended wakefulness. One of these groups of neurons is the locus coeruleus, neurons that are absolutely essential to sustained attention, memory and brain adaptation to physiological stimuli. Recently her group discovered that short term sleep loss results in a robust activation of anti-oxidants in these locus coeruleus neurons, a process regulated by sirtuin type 3. This mitochondrial sirtuin increases activity in response to brief wakefulness to prevent oxidative stress in locus coeruleus neurons across. Upon longer periods of sleep loss, sirtuin 3 is not activated; locus coeruleus neurons incur oxidative damage, and one third of the neurons die. This is the first substantiation of neuronal loss upon sleep loss and first evidence that the mitochondrial oxidative stress is involved in sleep loss neural injury. The lab hopes now to direct efforts towards the prevention of neuronal injury in the many individuals, including health care workers and our teenagers, who must sustain extended wakefulness.

NOVEMBER 12, 2014 (Wednesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Smilow Center for Translational Research Building, 8th Floor South Tower Seminar Room --SCTR 08-146AB (3400 Civic Center Blvd.)

Katherine L. Milkman, PhD
James G. Campbell, Jr. Assistant Professor of Operations and Information Management
The Wharton School
Secondary Appointment:
Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
The Perelman School of Medicine

Tackling Temptation

Dr. Milkman will describe a series of studies geared towards understanding the forces that shape conflicts between “should” choices that will bring delayed rewards (e.g., exercising, eating healthy foods) and “want” choices that will produce instant gratification (e.g., sitting on the couch, eating unhealthily). For instance, she will describe a randomized controlled trial testing technique she calls “temptation bundling” as a means of increasing gym visits. In addition, she will describe work exploring when people are most likely to pursue should options like exercising and dieting. Her research on “the fresh start effect” demonstrates that interest and engagement in healthy, should behaviors increases following temporal landmarks that segregate our continuous lifetimes into distinct periods (e.g., birthdays, holidays, the start of a new week/month/year).


BIO: Dr. Milkman's research relies heavily on "big data" to document various ways in which individuals systematically deviate from making optimal choices. Her work has paid particular attention to the question of what factors produce self-control failures (e.g., undersaving for retirement, exercising too little, eating too much junk food) and how to reduce the incidence of such failures. She has published dozens of articles in leading social science journals, and her research has been featured by leading news outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, and Businessweek. In 2011, she was recognized as one of the top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants, and in 2013 she was voted Wharton's "Iron Prof" by the school's MBA students. Katherine received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude) in Operations Research and Financial Engineering and her PhD from Harvard University's joint program in Computer Science and Business.

DECEMBER 2, 2014 (Tuesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Penn Tower Conference Room, Bridge level

Adda Grimberg, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics,
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Scientific Director, Diagnostic and Research Growth Center
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

When Medicine and Social Forces Intersect:
Disparities in the Management of Short Stature in Children and Adolescents

Growth is the most sensitive physical sign of a child’s overall health; growth faltering is often the first or only sign of an underlying problem. While many parents seek medical care for their children with growth faltering to make sure they are healthy, many seek medical care to ameliorate the psychosocial stressors of being short. In 2003, the FDA approved growth hormone treatment for idiopathic short stature, which it defined as the shortest 1.2% of the population, at an estimated national cost of $40 billion. This talk will review evidence for disparities in the evaluation and management of children with growth faltering/short stature and the ramifications for child health.


BIO: Dr. Adda Grimberg is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and Scientific Director of the Diagnostic and Research Growth Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She received her undergraduate and medical education at Cornell University, and completed both her residency in Pediatrics and fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She was subsequently appointed to the faculty in the same institution in the division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes. Trained as a translational physician scientist, Dr. Grimberg’s research focuses on the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis and clinical issues related to child growth. Her current NIH-funded research examines disparities in the management of short stature/growth faltering in children and adolescents. She has published over 70 scientific articles, reviews and textbook chapters. Her research has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Pediatric Endocrine Society Genentech Clinical Scholar Award, and with coverage in multiple media venues in the United States and abroad, including the New York Times. Dr. Grimberg has served on the editorial board of Growth, Genetics and Hormones, the PREP Endocrinology Advisory Board of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and as Co-Chair of the Drugs and Therapeutics Committee of the Pediatric Endocrine Society. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Federal Advisory Committee for the National Children’s Study of the Eunice KennedyShriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and on several GH and growth-related taskforces on behalf of the Pediatric Endocrine Society and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

FEBRUARY 9, 2015 (Monday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Penn Tower Conference Room, Bridge level

Jean Bennett, MD, PhD
F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor, Ophthalmology, Cell and Developmental Biology
Director, Center for Advanced Retinal and Ophthalmic Therapeutics
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

An Aye for Eye Translational Research:
Challenges and Opportunities with Family and Career

Dr. Bennett's talk will describe the development of gene therapy for treatment of blinding disorders but will focus on the challenges, surprises and behind-the-scenes experiences in navigating this uncharted territory. She will also describe her personal experiences caring for her children and family as well as lab members, mentees, clinical trial subjects and pets while developing this translational program.


BIO: Jean Bennett, MD, PhD has been developing gene transfer/gene therapy strategies for 3 decades and has been working specifically on eye diseases for the past two decades. She is the F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology and Cell and Developmental Biology and director of the Center for Advanced Retinal and Ophthalmic Therapeutics (CAROT) at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She has been at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute since 1992. Dr. Bennett also has an appointment as a Senior Investigator at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The goals of Dr. Bennett’s research program are to improve our understanding of the molecular bases of and to develop therapies for inherited retinal degenerations. She works closely with her husband, Albert M. Maguire, MD, a vitreo-retinal surgeon at UPenn, on this research. Their research has established the scientific underpinnings which made it possible to test the first potential definitive retinal gene therapy treatment for patients with blinding retinal degenerations. A Phase 1-2 trial, which evaluates the safety and efficacy of gene augmentation for a disease called Leber Congenital Amaurosis, was initiated in the fall of 2007 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This was the first clinical gene therapy clinical trial for a non-lethal disease to be carried out in children. Dr. Bennett is the Scientific Director of that study, which has carried out re-administration to the second eye. A Phase 3 trial for this disease is now in progress and may lead to the first approved gene therapy drug in the USA and the first approved ocular gene therapy drug worldwide. Dr. Bennett and colleagues are planning gene therapy clinical trials for additional blinding diseases.

MARCH 10, 2015 (Tuesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Penn Tower Conference Room, Bridge level

Joan C. Hendricks, BS, VMD, PhD
The Gilbert S. Kahn Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Matthew J. Ryan Small Animal Hospital

One Health and Why Women and Animals Together are Key to a Healthy, Happy World

One health is the term to describe the complex and important interactions among animals, the environment and mankind. Women are now the majority of graduates from Vet Schools and empowering women is a key driver for reducing poverty in the developing world. The talk will focus on the central role of women in the One Health.


BIO: Dr. Joan C. Hendricks became the 12th dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. She is the third female dean of a veterinary school in the United States. Dr. Hendricks has served on the faculty of the School for more than 20 years. In 2001, she became the first woman to hold an endowed professorship at Penn Vet, when she was named the Henry and Corinne R. Bower Professor of Small Animal Medicine. In addition to serving as chief of critical care in the Department of Clinical Studies at Philadelphia, Dr. Hendricks is founding director of the Veterinary Clinical Investigation Center (VCIC) and holds a secondary appointment as professor in the Department of Medicine at Penn’s School of Medicine. Dr. Hendricks also has served in a leadership position in the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA). In the area of critical care, Dr. Hendricks has played a key role in enhancing teaching and patient care. With colleagues at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, she was instrumental in establishing a Center for Critical Care at the hospital, which brought the Emergency Service, Intensive Care Unit and the Anesthesia Service together into a single section. Dr. Hendricks has significantly advanced the stature and importance of the School’s clinical investigation capabilities by successfully recruiting highly regarded tenure-track faculty in the Department of Clinical Studies, and by establishing an innovative partnership with Pfizer Animal Health to support clinical trials. Dr. Hendricks' work has been widely published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Journal of Applied Physiology, and she is frequently invited to lecture at major conferences around the world. Dr. Hendricks is a recognized expert in the field of sleep and sleep disorders, and has recently published pioneering studies on the molecular biology of sleep in fruit flies in the high-impact journals Nature Neuroscience and Neuron. In 1979 and 1980, Dr. Hendricks earned her VMD and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She also carried out her residency and postdoctoral fellowship at Penn. She has a BS in biology and psychology from Yale University.