Susan R. Ross, Ph.D. named Interim Chair of the Department of Microbiology
To: Penn Medicine Faculty and Staff
From: J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD
Glen Gaulton, PhD
Re: Susan R. Ross, Ph.D., named Interim Chair of the Department of Microbiology
We are pleased to announce that Susan R. Ross, PhD, has been named Interim Chair of the Department of Microbiology, effective immediately. Dr. Ross, professor of microbiology, joined our faculty in 1994. Her research has focused on the susceptibility and resistance of individuals to viral infection and virus-induced cancer (which makes up approximately 20 percent of human cancers). Since 2002, Dr. Ross has served as associate dean and director of our interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Studies, the academic home of roughly 750 University of Pennsylvania students pursuing their PhD degrees in the basic biomedical sciences. BGS includes about 650 faculty members across seven Penn schools and several associated institutes. Under Dr. Ross’s steady and enthusiastic leadership, she increased the size of the graduate program while maintaining its quality, and set – and met – a goal of improving admission rates of under-represented minorities. She was also instrumental in establishing two new certificate programs for graduate students, the HHMI-funded Med-into-Grad Scholars program and the Public Health Certificate Program.
An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania (BA, Biochemistry), Dr. Ross earned her doctoral degree in biochemical sciences at Princeton University. She subsequently went to the University of California, San Francisco, as a postdoctoral fellow. She also spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wistar Institute, where she began her studies on the use of genetically modified mice to study gene regulation. Indeed, Dr. Ross was one of the first investigators to use transgenic mice to study virus gene transcription, infection, and pathogenesis; in the 1990s, she and her colleagues demonstrated that mice retain endogenous superantigens as an antiviral defense mechanism. Currently, Dr. Ross’s laboratory focuses on why viruses infect specific hosts and how, in turn, host genes confer resistance to this infection.
Dr. Ross held the American Society for Microbiology Wellcome Visiting Professorship at Lehigh University for 1998-99, as well as the Society’s International Professorship at the Academia Nacional de Medicina in Buenos Aires in 2001. She received the Center for Retrovirus Research Distinguished Research Career Award in 2008. Dr. Ross is an elected fellow of both the American Academy of Microbiology and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Author of more than 90 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Ross has been an invited lecturer at many meetings and institutions. Dr. Ross serves as associate editor for PLOS Pathogens and as senior editor for the Journal of Virology. She has been a member of the Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training (the GREAT Group) of the Association of American Medical Colleges, including three years on its steering committee. Dr. Ross has served on numerous review panels, including NIH, DOD and various foundation study sections and the review panel for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Training Fellowships for Medical Students Program. She currently serves on the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health, which considers the many scientific, ethical, and legal issues raised by recombinant DNA technology and its applications in basic and clinical research.
With her experience as a director, scientist, teacher, and mentor, we are confident that Dr. Ross is ideal to lead the Department of Microbiology during this interim period and we appreciate her willingness to accept another leadership role at Penn.
We would also like to congratulate Robert W. Doms, M.D., Ph.D., who served as chair of the Department of Microbiology from 2001 until earlier this summer. As you know, he was named pathologist-in-chief and chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has our sincere thanks for his years of outstanding service.