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

2015 - 2016 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.

OCTOBER 19, 2015 (Monday), 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.)

Judith A. Long, MD
Sol Katz Associate Professor of Medicine
Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine
Co-Director, Penn Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Supporting Behavior Change: Peer Mentors, Financial Incentives, and More

Dr. Long will talk about her work testing interventions to support behavioral change in low-income patients with chronic diseases.


BIO: Judith A. Long, MD is Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine as well as a core faculty member in VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion and Co-Director of the Philadelphia VA Patient Aligned Care Team Demo Lab. Dr. Long’s current work focuses on interventions to support behavioral change in low-income patients with chronic diseases. She recently completed two studies funded by NIH evaluating the effectiveness of peer mentoring and financial incentives to improve glucose control in African Americans with poorly controlled diabetes. Both studies were randomized controlled trials (RCT). She is also the PI of a RCT evaluating how best to create sustainable peer mentor models for the VA. This study is being funded by VA HSR&D. Most recently she received a PCORI grant to evaluate the effectiveness of using Community Health Workers (CHWs) to help low income patients with multiple chronic diseases improve their health. Dr. Long is also actively engaged in the training of Health Services and Policy Researchers at Penn, until July 2015, she was the Director of Penn’s Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP) and PI of Penn’s NRSA Generalist Training Grant. Currently she Co-Directs the Penn Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, and will be a co-Director of the new National Clinician Scholars Program.

NOVEMBER 16, 2015 (Monday), 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 J. Kuchenbecker, PhD
Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM)
Secondary Appointment in Computer and Information Science (CIS)
School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania

Adding a Sense of Touch to Robotics in Medicine

Although commercial robotic surgery systems such as the Intuitive da Vinci are approved for use on human patients, they provide the surgeon with very little haptic (touch) feedback. My team at Penn has invented and studied two methods for adding haptic feedback to such systems, one through instrument vibrations and the other through fingertip deformations. We are also studying how haptic feedback affects resident learning and whether surgical skill can be estimated from recorded haptic signals alone.


BIO: Professor Kuchenbecker's research leverages scientific knowledge about the sense of touch to create robotic systems that enable a user to interact with virtual objects and distant environments as though they were real and within reach. These haptic interfaces combine electromechanical sensors and actuators with high-speed computer control, enabling applications such as robot-assisted surgery, medical simulation, stroke rehabilitation, and personal computing. Professor Kuchenbecker directs the Penn Haptics Group, which is part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. She has received several honors for her research, including an NSF CAREER Award in 2009, Popular Science Brilliant 10 in 2010, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Academic Early Career Award in 2012, and many best paper and best demonstration awards. She teaches courses in dynamics and robotics, and she serves as Undergraduate Curriculum Chair in her department. Her influence on students has been recognized with a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2014 and a TCPW Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising in 2015. Prior to becoming a professor, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University, and she earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University in 2006.

JANUARY 8, 2016 (Friday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Smilow Center for Translational Research Building, 8th Floor South Tower Seminar Room --SCTR 11-146A (3400 Civic Center Blvd.)

Michael L. Platt, PhD
James S. Riepe University Professor
Department of Neuroscience, Perelman School of Medicine
Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences
Marketing Department, the Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania

Friendship and Your Brain

Friendship, charity and empathy: How do these profoundly human feelings arise from the coordinated actions of our brains, bodies and genes? What are the roots of the social emotions in other animals? How does our social environment get “under our skin” to shape our lives and livelihood? Using his decades of experience studying the behavior and biology of rhesus macaques, Penn Integrates Knowledge professor Michael Platt will discuss the new science of friendship and what these monkeys can teach us about ourselves.


BIO: Michael Platt studies how we make decisions, using a combination of neural recordings, pharmacology, brain imaging, genetics, and computation, in humans, monkeys, and other animals. He received his B.A from Yale and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, both in biological anthropology, and did a post-doctoral fellowship in neuroscience at New York University. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Klingenstein Foundation, the McDonnell Foundation, the EJLB Foundation, Autism Speaks, the Broad Foundation, the Klarman Foundation, the Simons Foundation, and the Department of Defense, among others. He is a winner of the Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prize in the Duke University School of Medicine, and was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow. He has given the Sage Lecture at UC Santa Barbara and has received the Astor Visiting Professor award at Oxford University (deferred). Michael has authored over 90 peer-reviewed papers and over 40 review and opinion papers. Michael is an editor of major textbooks in neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience, and he is a former president of the Society for Neuroeconomics. He is the former Director of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and former Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. Michael’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and National Geographic, as well as on ABC’s Good Morning America, NPR, CBC, BBC, and MTV. Michael values teaching, and was a recipient of the Master Clinician/Teacher Award from the Duke University School of Medicine. He has also served as a consultant on several films, including The Fountain (Warner Bros, Darren Aronofsky, director) and as a scientific advisor to NOVA.

FEBRUARY 24, 2016 (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.)

Anjan Chatterjee, MD, FAAN
Elliott Professor and Chair of Neurology
Pennsylvania Hospital
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

The Biology of Beauty

People are drawn to beauty. What constitutes beauty and why does it exist? Dr. Chatterjee will discuss beauty in different forms, its biological basis, as well as its dark side.


BIO: Anjan Chatterjee is the Frank A. and Gwladys H. Elliott Professor and Chair of Neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital. He is a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BA in Philosophy from Haverford College, MD from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his neurology residency at the University of Chicago. His clinical practice focuses on patients with cognitive disorders. His research addresses questions about spatial cognition and language, attention, neuroethics, and neuroaesthetics. He wrote The Aesthetic Brain: How we evolved to desire beauty and enjoy art and co-edited: Neuroethics in Practice: Mind, medicine, and society, and The Roots of Cognitive Neuroscience: behavioral neurology and neuropsychology. He is or has been on the editorial boards of: American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, Behavioural Neurology, Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, Neuropsychology, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, European Neurology, Empirical Studies of the Arts, The Open Ethics Journal and Policy Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology. He was awarded the 2002 Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology by the American Academy of Neurology. He is a founding member of the Board of Governors of the Neuroethics Society, the President of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, and the President of the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Society. He serves on the Boards of Haverford College, The College of Physicians, the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Universal Promise and is on the Advisory Board of Cognitive Dynamics.

APRIL 8, 2016 (Friday), 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM, Location: Arthur H. Rubenstein Auditorium & Lobby, Smilow Center for Translational Research

FOCUS is one of many co-sponsors of this special event:


Details about the organizers, program and guest speakers are available on the symposium homepage where you may also REGISTER.

APRIL 28, 2016 (Thursday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Smilow Center for Translational Research Building, 8th Floor South Tower Seminar Room -- SCTR 09-146AB (3400 Civic Center Blvd.)

Jonathan A. Epstein, MD
William Wikoff Smith Professor of Medicine
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Faculty Challenges and Opportunities in a Modern Academic Medical Center


BIO: Dr. Epstein graduated from Harvard College in 1983, Harvard Medical School in 1988 and completed his Residency and Fellowship in Medicine and Cardiology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he also completed an HHMI Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genetics. In 1996 he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently the Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer, William Wikoff Smith Professor of Medicine, and former Chairman of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Scientific Director of the Penn Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Epstein has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Sir William Osler Young Investigator Award from the Interurban Club (2001) and the Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Federation for Medical Research (2006). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association of Physicians, Past President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He serves on several editorial boards, and is a past Deputy Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Epstein was a founding co-director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine in 2007. Dr. Epstein’s research has focused on the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular development and implications for understanding and treating human disease. His group has been at the forefront of utilizing animal models of congenital heart disease to determine genetic and molecular pathways required for cardiac morphogenesis, with implications for pediatric and adult cardiovascular disease. Stem cell, angiogenesis and epigenetic studies have had direct implications for the development of new therapeutic agents for heart failure and myocardial infarction. Dr. Epstein is a practicing cardiologist at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital.

MAY 6, 2016 (Friday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: To Be Determined

Anuja Dokras MD, PhD
Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Penn Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Center
Director, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) Program, Penn Fertility Care
Medical Director, Reproductive Surgical Facility
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Preimplantation Genetic Screening: The Future is Here

Dr. Dokras will discuss the innovative developments in reproductive and molecular biology that have made preimplantation genetic diagnosis a clinical tool as well as discuss the social implications of these developments.


BIO: Dr. Anuja Dokras received her medical degree from the University of Mumbai, India. She received the Rhodes scholarship in 1988 and obtained a PhD from University of Oxford, UK. Her PhD thesis focused on development of techniques for preimplantation genetic diagnosis which are now routinely offered as a clinical treatment in conjunction with IVF. She completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Yale University. She served as the Medical Director of the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) program at Penn Fertility Care (2007-2013) and at present directs the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her IVF research has focused on fertility outcomes following laboratory interventions such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection and clinical strategies including weight loss. She is also the Director of the multi-disciplinary PENN Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) center located at Penn Fertility Care and Penn Medicine at Radnor. She is currently the President of the Androgen Excess (AE) -PCOS Society (2014-2016), an international society focused on supporting education, research and patient awareness related to all aspects of androgen excess disorders. Dr Dokras’ research program focuses on understanding the determinants of cardiovascular risk associated with PCOS at both the cellular and population level. Another area of interest is to understand the impact of clinical interventions on health related quality of life, anxiety and mood disorders in PCOS. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Society of Reproductive Medicine and Reproductive Scientist Development Program. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and on the Editorial Board of Fertility and Sterility.

MAY 18, 2016 (Wednesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: To Be Determined

Scott Barry Kaufman
Scientific Director, Imagination Institute
Positive Psychology Center
University of Pennsylvania

Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity?
Based on his groundbreaking research, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, he will shine a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman will untangle a series of paradoxes- like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration - to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity.


BIO: Scott Barry Kaufman is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He conducts research on the measurement and development of intelligence, imagination, and creativity, and teaches the popular undergraduate course Introduction to Positive Psychology. Kaufman is author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined and co-author of the upcoming book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (with Carolyn Gregoire). He is also host of The Psychology Podcast, co-founder of The Creativity Post, and he writes the blog Beautiful Minds for Scientific American. Kaufman completed his doctorate in cognitive psychology from Yale University in 2009 and received his masters degree in experimental psychology from Cambridge University in 2005, where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar.