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Penn Genetics Symposium

The Department of Genetics and The Wistar Institute are hosting the Genetics of Cancer Predisposition & Pathology Symposium on Friday, November 22, 2013. The goals of the symposium are to expose the Penn scientific community to the outstanding work going on in Penn laboratories and to facilitate a sense of community among investigators who share an interest in the field of genetics.

This year's keynote address will be presented by Arnold J. Levine, Professor Emeritus of Systems Biology, School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study.

Genetics Symposium 2013

Kadesch Prize in Genetic Research Awarded toMaria Elena De Obaldia

In 2011, the Department of Genetics established the "Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics" to honor the legacy of our friend and colleague Dr. Tom Kadesch. Dr. Kadesch was a member of the Genetics department from 1984 until his death in 2011, and served as Interim Chairman for his final 4 years. He was not only an excellent scientist, but also a tremendously dedicated mentor, teacher and University citizen whose contributions inspired those around him. In his memory, with the help of many generous donors, we were able to set up an endowed fund that will support in perpetuity an annual award to "a graduate student demonstrating excellence in research achievement and citizenship". 

We are pleased to announce that this year's Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetic Research will be awarded to Maria Elena (Ellen) De Obaldia. Ellen is a current student in the Immunology graduate group (IGG), and is performing thesis work in the lab of Dr. Avinash Bhandoola.  Her research focuses on mechanisms of T-lineage specification and commitment during hematopoiesis. Ellen used genetic approaches in the mouse to show that early T lineage precursor cells in the thymus still have myeloid potential. She then built on initial observations by Tom Kadesch’s lab to show how Notch and Hes-1 block myeloid specification to allow for T cell specification. These projects resulted in first-author publications in Blood and Nature Immunology. In addition to her research accomplishments, Ellen has been an impressive university and community citizen. She has mentored students in the lab and at community science fairs, worked as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate immunology course, and served on multiple IGG and BGS committees. She also co-authored the 2011 book “Success with Science: The Winner’s Guide to High School Research”, which compiles advice from students, teachers, science fair directors and other scientists who, like Ellen, got their start in science fairs.

The Kadesch prize will be presented to Ms. De Obaldia at the upcoming Genetics Symposium on November 22, 2013. In addition to receiving a $1000 cash prize, Ms. De Obaldia will speak about her research at the Symposium. Please join us in congratulating her and make plans to attend the award ceremony and Symposium on November 22.


The Kadesch prize selection committee
Shelley Berger, Doug Epstein, Mitch Lazar, Celeste Simon and Meera Sundaram