Monthly | Pulse

Jan '14

An Update from the Perelman School of Medicine

More Dollars, Less Debt

Scholarship Support at Record-Setting Pace in 2014

Thanks to our donors, 2014 is a banner year for scholarships, with the Perelman School distributing $14 million in financial aid -- the highest amount yet. This extraordinary investment in our students means that they can expect to graduate with an average debt nearly $35,000 below the national average.

Expanding scholarship support was a priority of the Making History campaign, and our donors responded enthusiastically. At the Campaign's close, in 2012, the amount of financial aid offered annually had more than doubled. These numbers continue to grow as we approach the School's 250th anniversary in 2015.

Financial aid ensures that the most talented students, regardless of need, choose Penn. Because of these scholarship dollars, their futures are brighter -- and so is ours. We are proud to introduce just a few of our scholarship recipients, including two new John Morgan scholars, whose ranks have now grown to seven.

James Baier, M'17: Barbara Mock Scholar

James BaierJames Baier majored in political science, economics, and philosophy at Central College and completed the post-baccalaureate pre-med program at Penn. Currently the Publicity and Outreach Coordinator for the Penn Human Rights Clinic, Mr. Baier previously worked to resettle refugees who had come to Des Moines, Iowa.

"When I join a medical relief organization after my residency, I will no doubt earn much less working abroad than I would in the United States, and unless my debt burden was low I would not have the flexibility to do this," he said. "This gift has truly enabled me to pursue my dreams as far as my passion will take me."

Justin Larkin, M'17: John Morgan Scholar

Justin LarkinJustin Larkin earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University, majoring in physiology and developmental biology and in Portuguese. His interests are surgery and fetal diagnosis and treatment. Dual-degree opportunities drew Mr. Larkin to Penn, and he hopes to complete a joint MD/MBA. He is co-chair of the governing board for the new Healthcare Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology certifcate program at Perelman.

"Having grown up in a single-parent home, I imagined it would be impossible for me to go to college, and much less medical school," he said. "Because of selfless donations like your own, I am able to attend a great medical school like Penn."

Lauren Miller, M'17: John Morgan Scholar

Lauren MillerLauren Miller earned a bachelor's degree in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. She is interested in neurology, oncology, and surgery, and hopes to work in clinical practice and health policy. Last summer, Ms. Miller hiked the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. Through Penn, she has volunteered for Puentes de Salud and the University City Hospitality Coalition's medical clinic.

"Financial considerations were a huge factor of my medical school decision," she said, "and I am beyond grateful that some of these fears and anxieties were dispelled by your generous gift."

 Support the New 250th Term Scholarship Fund

Celebrate the Perelman School's once-in-a-lifetime anniversary with a gift that both honors our tradition of outstanding intellectual achievement and makes it possible for more of America's finest students to receive a Penn medical education. Please email Dave Edwards for more information.

Innovation Live!

Students Initiate H-MET Program to Experience Front Lines of Change

Thanks to three second-year medical students, the Perelman School now offers a fresh way for students to work alongside -- and learn from -- nationally renowned faculty innovators. Your involvement is invited to help this new program flourish.

Diane Dao, C'11, M'16, Daniel O'Connor, and Jacqueline Soegaard, M'16, each came to the Perelman School for its dynamic learning environment. "Last January, we had a coffee shop epiphany," said Ms. Soegaard. "We discovered that we all wanted a more structured way to learn about -- and get hands-on experience with -- emerging areas of change from early on in our studies." The Health Care Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (H-MET) certificate program was born.

One year later, H-MET already offers extraordinary chances to learn and to connect. David Asch, GM'87, WG'89, HOM'96, the Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, is among its faculty advisors, and H-MET runs an ongoing seminar series on hot topics. Students pursue relevant coursework all around Penn's campus, including at Wharton, the Engineering School, and the Nursing School.

Finally, they will each apply their new knowledge in a focused experience -- such as an internship or research project -- aimed at improving healthcare delivery.

Overall, H-MET seeks to bring the first-hand study of technology, population management, and broad health industry organization into the education of physicians who want to be leaders in academic medicine or other clinical settings.

H-MET is now connecting with innovation-minded students and faculty across Penn and professionals in the Philadelphia region. Penn Medicine alumni are welcome to join in and can meet H-MET students and faculty at the complimentary Medicine and Business Networking Breakfast on Friday, February 21. Please contact Dave Edwards to register or learn more.

H-MET reflects the experiences of its founding students. As an undergraduate, Ms. Dao conducted research in academically-based community health partnerships in underserved Asian and Hispanic populations in Philadelphia. "I realized early on that improvements in patient care and health delivery required an interdisciplinary understanding of public health, business, and technological innovation," she said.

Based on his work in the University of Virginia Emergency Department, Mr. O'Connor and a partner developed InstantEval, software that streamlines the process of evaluating residents. He continues this work through Wharton's Venture Initiation Program. While gaining entrepreneurial experience, he also hopes to "implement technology that helps doctors practice medicine more efficiently."

Machine learning and healthcare information technology is Ms. Soegaard's interest. "It's a fantastic way to innovate in medicine," she said. "The impact can be so immediate." As an undergraduate researcher, she helped develop an algorithm that automates detection of seizure endpoints on EEG tracings -- sparing physicians this time-consuming task. Now she is collaborating to develop intuitive clinical data visualizations for the ICU to help doctors quickly understand and react to data trends.

The trio reached out to Senior Vice Dean Dr. Gail Morrison, M'71, FEL'76, Associate Dean for Curriculum Dr. Stan Goldfarb, and Curriculum Director Anna Delaney, who welcomed their input into their education. It turned out that the new Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation was seeking to develop an educational arm, and an email to Dr. Kevin Volpp, M'96, G'97, GRW'98, Center Co-Director, was sent.

"We emailed to ask if it would be even worthwhile to talk. We were pleasantly surprised by the response -- he was incredibly enthusiastic," said Mr. O'Connor.

Today, along with Dr. Asch, Dr. Shivan Mehta, the Director of Operations for the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, and Dr. Nalaka S. Gooneratne, Course Director for the Biomedical Entrepreneurship Frontiers, serve as H-MET faculty advisors. H-MET lecturers have included Chief Innovation Officer for Penn Medicine and former first Vice President of Innovation for Intuit Roy Rosin, MBA and Dr. Raina Merchant, Director of the Social Media and Health Innovation Lab at Penn Medicine. Dr. Volpp will speak at the February 21 breakfast.

To establish and grow the program, first-year students Mitt Coats, Justin Larkin, Sneha Kannan, and J.C. Lopez co-chair a governing board of students and faculty. With additional funding, H-MET hopes to

  • offer financial aid for internships and other experiences
  • hold regular demo-days for students, faculty, alumni to see current projects and to network
  • host a TED-Med conference

Please contact the board at to join in as a mentor, speaker, donor, or participant.

Only at Medical Alumni Weekend 2014

Medical Alumni WeekendJoin us May 16 - 18 for favorite activities and new, one-of-a-kind events:

Standing Room Only.
The Dean's Dinner Reception Friday night at the National Constitution Center features not only alumni award winners, but also food stations that compel you to get up out of your seat and meet them.

It would be a crime to miss Dr. Park Dietz, America's most wanted forensic psychiatrist, speaking Saturday morning. Dr. Dietz has testified at the trials of Jeffrey Dahmer, the Unabomber, and many other headline makers.

Don't let the parade pass you by.
March the new route through Penn Park, created by the Making History campaign, and enjoy a casual yet multi-cuisine meal within sight of the new Henry A. Jordan M'62 Medical Education Center.

To learn more, please visit the schedule online. Registration will open in early February; watch your inbox for an announcement when you can sign up.

Support the Ride to Conquer Cancer

Philadelphia's first annual Ride to Conquer Cancer® will take place October 11-12, 2014, to benefit Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center. This ride isn't just for cyclists or athletes. It's for anyone who wants to strive for the life-changing goal of defeating cancer.

The 150+ mile cycling adventure through the picturesque landscapes around Philadelphia is designed with more casual riders in mind, and organized training activities are available to help you prepare. Hundreds of survivors, family members, students, alumni, faculty, and friends are expected to participate.

Ride to Conquer CancerUPHS CEO Ralph Muller and Abramson Cancer Center Director Dr. Chi V. Dang are co-captains for the UPHS/ACC Team. "The funds raised through the Ride will be put to used to power our breakthrough cancer research, and world-class education and patient care programs right here in Philadelphia," he said.

Susan Ranck, of Springfield, is also registered and plans to ride in October. "I was recently diagnosed with a cancer that is so rare, there is not yet a cure," she said. "I am beyond grateful that funding from research enabled scientists to discover a drug that enables me to at least control it. Not so long ago, gastrointestinal stromal tumors were a practical death sentence, and now there are drug options to offset this terrible disease.

"I am here today thanks to research and breakthrough discoveries, so when I learned the Ride is coming to Pennsylvania, I registered immediately. I am excited to ride, and it's my hope that with more time and money, the researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center will find a cure for my disease -- and all forms of cancer."

To find out how you can sponsor or join the Ride, please visit the Ride to Conquer Cancer, or call 844-777-RIDE [7433].

© 2012 Penn Medicine Alumni. All Rights Reserved.