Penn MD-PhD Steering Committee
The Steering Committee is the core group that guides and shapes the MD-PhD program at Penn. The members are Drs. Skip Brass, Aimee Payne, Mark Kahn, Rahul Kohli, Jaimo Ahn, Dennis Kolson, Ben Stanger, and Bob Heuckeroth along with the administrative Director, Maggie Krall. The committee meets often to discuss all aspects of the program, and the members are always available to talk with students individually.
Additional information about the faculty members on the committee appears below.
Lawrence (Skip) Brass, MD, PhD is a graduate of Harvard College and Case Western Reserve University, where he received his MD and a PhD in biochemistry. After residency training in internal medicine, he became a fellow in Hematology-Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania where he served as Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine from 2004 to 2007, and is currently Professor of Medicine and Professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics. He has led the NHLBI-funded Hematology Research Training Program since 1994 and became Associate Dean for Combined Degree and Physician Scholars Programs and Director of Penn’s MSTP in 1998. He has been active at the national level in the development of training programs for physician-scientists, has served as President of the National Association of MD-PhD Programs, Chair of the AAMC GREAT section on MD-PhD training and was a member of the NIH Physician-Scientist Workforce advisory group in 2013-2014. He is also a practicing hematologist whose research interests are in the fields of hemostasis and vascular biology. He has been continuously funded by the NIH NHLBI since the mid-1980’s, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and was an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association. He is a recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001; the Distinguished Career Award from the International Society of Hemostasis and Thrombosis in 2013; the inaugural Bert Shapiro Award for Leadership, Dedication and Service to the Physician-Scientist Community from the National Association of MD/PhD Programs in 2015; the Distinguished Educator Award from the Association of Clinical and Translational Science in 2018; and numerous teaching awards from students at the Perelman School of Medicine.
Aimee Payne graduated from Stanford University in 1993 and received her MD and PhD (Molecular and Cellular Biology) from Washington University School of Medicine in 2001, followed by dermatology residency training and postdoctoral fellowship at Penn. She currently serves as the Albert M. Kligman Associate Professor of Dermatology, Core Director of the Penn Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center, and faculty advisor for the Association of Women Student MD-PhDs (AWSM). Aimee’s research and clinical areas of specialty are autoimmunity and desmosomal cell adhesion, focusing on the model autoantibody-mediated blistering disease pemphigus. She is a member of the Cell and Molecular Biology and Immunology Graduate Groups and is active in teaching and advising medical students, graduate students, and dermatology residents. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Society for Investigative Dermatology, the Dermatology Foundation Medical and Scientific Committee, NIH/NIAMS Board of Scientific Counselors, and is active in the International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid patient foundation. Her work has been recognized with the Charles and Daneen Stiefel Scholar Award in Autoimmune Diseases, a Top 10 Clinical Research Forum Award, and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.
Mark Kahn received his BA and MD from Brown University in 1984 and 1987. After internal medicine training at Oregon Health Sciences University, basic science research at NHLBI, and cardiology fellowship and postdoctoral training at UCSF, Mark came to Penn in 1999. Mark has taught numerous graduate and combined degree courses at Penn, and was co-director of the HHMI Med into Grad program. His lab studies signaling pathways that regulate cardiovascular growth and function and hemostasis. He has published over 60 manuscripts in journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Immunology, Developmental Cell, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He has served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation and won numerous awards, including the AHA Young Investigator Award, the Michael S. Brown Junior Faculty Research Award, and the Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology. Mark is an clinical cardiologist who sees patients in the CCU and teaches medical students, residents and fellows. He is a member of the Cell and Molecular Biology and Pharmacology graduate groups.
Rahul Kohli received his undergraduate training in Biochemistry at the University of Michigan. In 2004, he received his MD and PhD (Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology) from Harvard Medical School. He subsequently trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (2005-6) and completed his fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University (2007-2010), where he also carried out post-doctoral studies in the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences. He was recruited to Penn Medicine as an Assistant Professor and Penn Scholar in Molecular Medicine in July 2010, with a primary appointment in the Department of Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. The chief objective of his research group has been to probe DNA modifying enzymes and pathways that reshape the genome in infectious pathogens, in immunity or in epigenetics. His lab’s early work garnered support from the Rita Allen Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the Edward J. Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation, the Harrington Discovery Institute and in the form of an NIH Director's New Innovator Award. Ongoing work is supported by the NIH and the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation. Rahul is active in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Groups.
Jaimo Ahn, MD, PhD, FACS is Advisory Dean and an orthopaedic surgeon-scientist at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed a clinical fellowship in Orthopaedic Traumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College and traveling fellowships at the University of Bern, Switzerland and across western North America with the American Orthopaedic Association. He served his internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania where he also received his MD-PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology and performed a fellowship in molecular orthopaedics. Prior to that, he was a research associate in parasitology at UCSF after receiving his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Stanford University. In addition to studying the education and development of physician-scientists, he co-manages a laboratory with a focus on bone regulation/regeneration and fracture healing and a clinical research program with a focus on prospective orthopaedic trauma outcomes and surgical decision-making. In addition, the translation of research/ideas to the real world is important to Jaimo and he is active in the realization of several patents/companies. To complete the academic triad, he is active in medical education, serving as Director of the Penn Med orthopaedic clerkship, Associate Director of the orthopaedic residency program, Board member of the American Physician Scientists Association and as a former member of the USMLE test material development committee. He enjoys reviewing for journals as varied as JAMA, Science Translational Medicine, Frontiers in Surgery, Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma and consulting for the FDA as well as industry. When not working, he loves to travel, eat, drink and run with his wife, family and friends. Importantly, his email and office are always open to students.
Dennis Kolson, MD, PhD graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1977, and completed his MS, MD, and PhD degrees from the University of Pittsburgh (1985). He completed his Neurology residency at Duke University (1989) and then moved to Penn where he completed his post-doctoral/fellowship training in Neurovirology. He joined the Penn faculty in 1992 and is now a tenured Professor of Neurology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Microbiology. He is a member of the Neuroscience and Cellular & Molecular Biology (Microbiology, Virology & Parasitology/MVP program) graduate groups at Penn. He served as past Chair of the Penn MVP admissions committee, past regular member of the NIH HIV Neuropathogensis study section, and he currently serves several national and international advisory roles, including the Steering Committee of the NIH National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium and the Scientific Program Committee of the International Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. He is currently co-Director of the Penn Training in Neurovirology T32 training grant. Dennis’ research interests are in the roles for inflammation and immune activation in neurodegeneration, with one area of focus on immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus/SIV). He has trained PhD and MD-PhD students in his lab, several of who have been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschtein National Research Service Award (NRSA) to support their own research training. He is active in teaching and training graduate and medical students through lecturing in the Brain & Behavior Module of the Medical School Core Curriculum and in the Microbiology MVP graduate course curriculum. In addition, Dennis mentors MSTP students in their Neurology clinical clerkships by having them attend his weekly multiple sclerosis outpatient clinic, and as an Attending Neurologist on the Neurology inpatient and consulting services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ben Stanger received his SB from MIT and his MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School in 1997. He did a residency in Internal Medicine at UCSF and a fellowship in Gastroenterology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He remained as Instructor at Harvard from 2003-2006, when he moved to the University of Pennsylvania as Assistant Professor of Medicine. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. Ben is also an Associate Investigator of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (AFCRI) and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Ben's research interests span the fields of developmental biology, cancer biology, and regenerative medicine, and his lab uses mouse models to tease apart complex cellular behaviors interactions that occur during normal embryogenesis and in a variety of disease states. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles in journals including Nature, Cell, Cancer Cell, and Cell Stem Cell and has received several honors including being named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and a recipient of Penn's Michael S. Brown New Investigator Research Award. Ben has been involved in teaching medical students, graduate students, and clinical fellows, and was co-director of the Topics in Molecular Medicine (TiMM) class from 2008 - 2014. He is a member of the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group.
Robert Heuckeroth completed his undergraduate training in chemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park (B.S. 1983) and then MD and PhD degrees at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (Biochemistry, Medicine, 1990). He trained in pediatrics (1990-1992) and pediatric gastroenterology (1993-1995) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and continues to see patients as an attending gastroenterologist. Post-doctoral studies in developmental neurobiology led to an interest in neural crest and especially enteric nervous system (ENS) development when he opened an independent research laboratory (1998). The primary objective of our work is to define molecular and cellular mechanisms that cause birth defects with the ultimate goal of developing new treatment and prevention strategies. Studies in the lab encompass stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, embryology, genetics, and biochemistry and his research group has defined roles for more than 45 molecules that impact the ENS and other aspects of development. He remained at Washington University until 2013 when he was recruited to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn to build research programs that will lead to new treatments or diagnostic strategies for people with intestinal motility disorders. He is Research Director CHOP's Lustgarten Center for GI Motility and the Norman and Irma Braman Endowed Chair for GI Motility Disorders. He continues to train MSTP students in his lab, teaches in the first year MSTP TIMM course, is course co-director for the second year MSTP CSTR course and is committed to fostering career development for physician scientists. His work has been supported by the NIH, March of Dimes, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and other organizations. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and is delighted to be part of Penn’s MSTP steering committee.