News & Events
Saul Winegrad, BGS Founding Director, 1931-2020
We are sad to report that our founding director, Dr. Saul Winegrad, died in his sleep on March 13th after a long illness.
Saul chaired the committee to create BGS and was appointed its first director in 1984. Under his leadership, and with guidance from the Biomedical Advisory Committee, BGS came to provide centralized oversight of admissions, student financial aid, curricula, student standards, diversity student recruitment, data management, and many other functions. A native Philadelphian, Saul received his BA and MD from Penn, and he joined the Penn faculty in 1962 in the Department of Physiology. Saul led BGS for 10 years before returning his efforts to the lab full-time in 1994. His research focused on cardiac muscle physiology at the sub-cellular level, and he received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the National Award of Merit from the American Heart Association. The Saul Winegrad Distinguished Dissertation Award was developed in his honor in 1995. BGS now has 900 current students and more than 3000 alumni, all of whom benefit in some measure from Saul's vision and dedication to graduate education.
#IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit
BGS alumnus Jessica Taaffe (CAMB), an AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, will be featured in the largest collection of women statues ever assembled in one location, at one time. The exhibit will debut at Dallas’ NorthPark Center on Friday, May 1, 2020 and be on display through October 9, 2020. Dr. Taaffe is among 125 diverse women in STEM careers across the country to be selected as high profile role models for young girls through direct engagement and media opportunities.
Learn more about the initiative:
IF/THEN Summit Convenes Nationwide Female STEM Role Models in Dallas
“#IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit” Presents the Most Life-Sized Statues of Women in One Place at One Time
New BGS Alumni Career Path Videos
The BGS Career Development site continues to grow, with new videos highlighting alumni's diverse career paths. These include:
- Aaron Steiner, Assistant Professor at Pace University [Teaching: Primarily Undergraduate Institutions]
- Alyssa MacMillan, Program Manager at the New Jersey Department of Health [Government Research]
- Andrew Rennekamp, Scientific Editor at Cell Press [Publishing]
- Robert DeAngelis, Assistant Director of IACUC Administration at the University of Pennsylvania [Regulatory Affairs]
In addition to alumni Career Path videos, the BGS Career Development site features a wide variety of resources. These include a description of the Core Competencies developed through predoctoral training as well as websites for career exploration. The blog and calendar are both frequently updated with upcoming career development events, so check back often!
BGS Alumni in the News
Arati Kreibich, NGG alum and current Glen Rock Councilmember, is running for Congress in New Jersey's Fifth District. Check out some of the news coverage of Kreibich’s campaign below:
BGS Alumni - Career Path Videos
The BGS Career Development site maintains a growing video series featuring alumni's diverse career paths. Recently, Robert Netter, Patent Attorney, and Carrie McMahon, Regulatory Scientist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, shared insights on their respective fields. The BGS alumni describe their typical day, the things they like most and least about their chosen career, the typical traits and skills required, and much more. The full list of alumni videos produced thus far is available here.
2019 Jon Samuel Kanefield Prize for Cystic Fibrosis Research
BGS congratulates Derek Liberti (CAMB) on his receipt of the Jon Samuel Kanefield Prize for Cystic Fibrosis Research. This prize was established in 2003 for BGS students carrying out cystic fibrosis- or related research. The prize honors Jon Samuel Kanefield, who died in 1998 at the age of 42 from cystic fibrosis. Its purpose is to help inspire young basic science investigators to pursue research related to cystic fibrosis.
Derek has received the award in recognition of the outstanding quality of his forthcoming paper in Developmental Biology entitled, “Dnmt1 is required for proximal-distal patterning of the lung endoderm and for restraining alveolar type 2 cell fate.”
2019 Recipients of the Blavatnik Family Fellowship in Biomedical Research
In 2018, BGS received a $2 million gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation to help transform the education and training of the next generation of scientific leaders. Headed by industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik, the Blavatnik Family Foundation has a strong record of supporting talented young scientists at premier institutions around the globe.
The gift established the Blavatnik Family Fellowship. This is now the second year in which the Fellowship is competitively awarded to six Penn BGS students. By 2021, the Fellowship will have supported a total of 24 students.
BGS is pleased to announce the 2019 Recipients of the Blavatnik Family Fellowship. Pictured from left to right:
Megan Clark (VMD-PhD), IGG student in the lab of Dr. Jorge Henao-Mejia.
Ryan Cupo, PGG student in the lab of Dr. James Shorter.
Kelsey Kaeding, CAMB G&E student in the lab of Dr. Kenneth Zaret.
Yekaterina Kori, BMB student in the lab of Dr. Benjamin Garcia.
Danielle Murashige (MD-PhD), CAMB CPM student in the lab of Dr. Zoltan Arany.
Daniel Zhang (MD-PhD), BMB student in the lab of Dr. Hongjun Song.
Please join us in congratulating them!
HHMI Gilliam Fellowships
BGS is pleased to announce that Natasha Lopes Fischer is a winner of the 2019 Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Natasha is a CAMB MVP student, working in the lab of Dr. Sunny Shin. Her research is focused on the innate immune mechanisms to Coxiella burnetii. She is investigating the role of the host inflammasome pathway in detecting Coxiella within infected cells and determining whether the bacteria can inhibit activation of this host immune response.
The Gilliam Fellowship program was created in 2004, with the goal of increasing diversity among scientists who are prepared to assume leadership roles in science. The program provides awards to pairs of students and their dissertation advisers who are selected for their scientific leadership and commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the sciences.
Please join us in congratulating Natasha on this accomplishment!
2019 Jane Glick and Mikey Nusbaum Awards
BGS is pleased to announce this year's recipients of the Jane Glick and Michael Nusbaum awards:
We have two recipients for the Michael P. Nusbaum Graduate Student Mentoring Award: Terri Laufer, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Nandita Mitra, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics. Dr. Laufer's and Dr. Mitra’s dedication to mentoring students and guiding them in reaching their scholarly potential exemplifies the type of scientist and mentor that Mikey Nusbaum represents.
This year's recipient of the Jane M. Glick Graduate Student Teaching Award is Greg Bashaw, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience. Dr. Bashaw's commitment to educating and training the next generation of scientists exemplifies the type of scientist and educator that Jane Glick represented.
This year's awards committee members were Drs. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, Josh Gold, Meera Sundaram, Erika Holzbaur and student representative, Katherine Quiroz-Figueroa.
2019 Models of Excellence Award
The 2019 Models of Excellence Award Ceremony took place on April 23, 2019. Christine Clay, coordinator of the Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG), was honored for her meaningful impact on admissions and recruiting. Congratulations, Christine! Read more about the celebration here: https://www.hr.upenn.edu/PennHR/penn-community/awards-and-appreciation/models-of-excellence
BGS Receives $2 Million Gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation
In 2018, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania received a $2 million gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation to establish the Blavatnik Family Fellowship in Biomedical Research in the Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) program. Headed by industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik, the Blavatnik Family Foundation has a strong history of supporting talented young scientists at premier institutions around the globe.
The Blavatnik Family Fellowship will be competitively awarded to six Penn BGS students for each of the next four academic years. By 2021, the Blavatnik Family Fellowship will have impacted 24 students, all Blavatnik Family Fellows, by providing a crucial boost at the very moment these talented trainees are launching as independent investigators. The Fellowship ensures support for students during their work with their mentors, a pivotal relationship in their scientific journey.
The inaugural class of Blavatnik Family Fellows was chosen in July 2018 from many nominees from the BGS program. The students selected are Divyansh Agarwal, Edward Chuang, Jinyang Li, Kamen Simeonov, Huchuan “Cedric” Xia and Linda Zhou. They are focusing on research projects with translational implications across many disease areas, including: ocular diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, cancer metastasis, psychiatric disorders; and trinucleotide repeat expansion disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and Fragile X Syndrome.
Read more about the Blavatnik Family Fellowship in the Daily Pennsylvanian.
Nominations for this award for the 2019-2020 academic year will be solicited among eligible students in the summer of 2019.