Please see our publications page for a selection of the latest publications from CWHRM faculty.

News Articles

Kotaro Sasaki
Kotaro Sasaki

Kotaro Sasaki and his team unveil the genetics of testicular cancer

[06/18/24] Nathi Magubane for Penn Today: "Research on seminoma to develop better treatments has been impeded by the lack of relevant mouse models and the scarcity of seminoma samples. Additionally, the tumor itself is complex, with varied cell types and a significant presence of immune cells, making it hard to analyze in bulk.

"'These obstacles hinder comprehensively understanding seminoma's genetic and molecular underpinnings,' says Kotaro Sasaki, a physician scientist at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine who is leading the charge on researching the biology of urogenital cancers at the molecular level." Read more of "Kotaro Sasaki and his team unveil the genetics of testicular cancer"

Abike James
Abike James

New Penn Medicine Nudge Unit pilots show how simple questions can lead to answers that improve care

[01/09/24] Frank Otto for Penn Medicine News: "Through the work of Abike James, MD, MPH, an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Penn Medicine has guidance in place to be more careful about urine drug screening orders. But Kravitz, along with James and their team, which includes collaborators across many specialties and the Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic at Penn Carey Law School, hope to use a nudge system built into the electronic health record—which will include an accountable justification to click through—to encourage care team members to slow down and be much more thoughtful about ordering screenings.

"Through this, they hope to achieve a 100 percent consent rate among patients. They also hope the project will contribute to larger efforts to reduce disparities along racial and ethnic lines, and, like many of these other projects, work to spread this system to other hospitals in Philadelphia and beyond." Read more of "New Penn Medicine Nudge Unit pilots"

Gender equity group adds programs for sponsorship, lab research

Article features Courtney A. Schreiber, MD, MPH and Deborah Driscoll, MD.

[12/08/23] Meredith Mann for Penn Medicine Magazine: "The first in-person conference of  FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women at Penn Medicine since the COVID-19 pandemic was not your typical medical meeting, with a parade of lecturers, poster sessions, and PowerPoint presentations. In part, it was instead a workshop for women faculty to focus on their own health and well-being and learn to take charge of their own personal and professional needs—while also reflecting on important issues driving gender equity in research." Read more of "Gender equity group adds programs"

Health Equity Efforts Help Moms Newly Home from the Hospital

Article features Kirstin Leitner, MD, Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE, and Elizabeth Howell, MD, MPP.

[12/06/23] Christina Hernandez Sherwood for Penn Medicine’s Service in Action site: "New mothers and their babies typically leave the cocoon-like environment of the hospital maternity floor within a few days of delivery. Their discharge marks the end of a particularly intense nine months of medical support: from the monthly, then biweekly, then weekly obstetric exams during pregnancy to the 24/7 access to nurses in the hospital. Once they return home after giving birth, most new parents will not be seen by a medical professional for the next month and a half, until the typical six-week postpartum appointment with their obstetrician.

"But for the unlucky few, early postpartum problems can quickly develop into much more serious complications." Read more of "Health Equity Efforts Help Moms"

Banishing Racial Bias and Building Trust During Pregnancy

Article features Abike James, MD, MPH, Elizabeth Howell, MD, MPP, Rebecca Feldman Hamm, MD, MSCE, and Lisa Levine, MD, MSCE.

[12/06/23] Christina Hernandez Sherwood for Penn Medicine’s Service in Action site: "At Penn Medicine, connecting with patients during pregnancy and addressing sources of mistrust, bias, and racial inequity, are all crucially important parts of building toward a state of lifelong health and well-being that is equitable for all patients. These priorities are part of the organization's comprehensive effort to address the inequity of maternal health outcomes for Black patients and other people of color. New and expectant mothers in the United States are more likely to die than those in any other developed country in the world. For Black women, the risk of death is more than two and a half times higher nationally, and four times higher in Philadelphia. Yet more than 80 percent of these deaths are preventable." Read more of "Banishing Racial Bias"

Helping Black Families to Grow and Thrive

Article features Elizabeth Howell, MD, MPP and Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE.

[11/20/23] Christina Hernandez Sherwood for Penn Medicine’s Service in Action site: "The approach to maternal health equity at Penn Medicine encompasses a unified effort from across the University of Pennsylvania Health System, endorsed and supported as a system goal by its executive leaders, with participation from any and all departments that could potentially make an impact.

"This comprehensive undertaking involves not only a broad array of quality improvements and innovations in patient care, but also faculty research and community engagement. Some of the core principles underlying the efforts include standardizing patient care during key moments in pregnancy and childbirth to reduce opportunities for racial bias, and centering equity as a goal by targeting specific maternal health programs to historically underserved populations. More than just focusing on pregnancy and childbirth, the initiative aims to connect with pregnant people during this unique time of intensive medical care as a bridge across the continuum—aiming to keep them and their entire families connected to a lifetime of quality health care. And making a broader influence with these innovations is a primary goal, so not only Penn patients benefit, but also new parents and families across the city of Philadelphia, the region, and the U.S. as a whole." Read more of "Helping Black Families to Grow and Thrive"

Alice Abernathy
Alice Abernathy

Study Finds Higher Rates of Cardiovascular Complications Among Pregnant Women Living in States with Most Restrictive Abortion Policies

[11/03/23] Matt Toal for Penn Medicine News: "'Severe or untreated high blood pressure is dangerous for the pregnant person and their baby; and may lead to a cascade of pregnancy complications including heart disease, liver disease, preterm birth, placental abruption, pre-eclampsia, and even eclampsia and seizures may follow,' said Alice Abernathy, MD, MSHP, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn.

"And the risks don’t end after delivering a baby." Read more of "Study Finds Higher Rates of Cardiovascular Complications"

Kurt Barnhart
Kurt Barnhart

National Academy of Medicine elects five new members from Penn

[10/09/23] Amanda Mott for Penn Today: "Five experts from the University of Pennsylvania have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the nation’s highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Desmond Upton Patton, along with Kurt T. Barnhart, Christopher B. Forrest, Susan L. Furth, and Robert H. Vonderheide from the Perelman School of Medicine are among the 100 new members, elected by current NAM members. They join 83 other Penn members who are part of the prestigious group of health care thought leaders, clinicians, and researchers.

"Election to the Academy recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health." Read more of "National Academy of Medicine elects five new members"

Heather Burris
Heather Burris

Penn and CHOP Researchers Receive $50 Million in NIH Grant to Study Impact on Environmental Factors on Pregnancy and Children’s Health

[10/05/23] Alex Gardner for Penn Medicine News: "'We are thrilled to have been chosen as an ECHO Cohort Study Site and for the opportunity to contribute to this important project, which will improve our understanding of the ways the local environment affects our children's health,' said Heather Burris, MD, MPH, an attending neonatologist at CHOP and co-lead investigator of the Penn-CHOP study site. 'We know that communities are not equally exposed to environmental toxicants, and we also know that health inequities and disparities are an ongoing public health problem. This project will help us shed light on the extent to which the health inequities we see in our patient population are related to neighborhood environmental exposures.'" Read more of "Penn and CHOP Researchers Receive $50 Million"

Rebecca Hamm
Rebecca Hamm

$19 Million from NIH Establishes Maternal Health Implementation Science Hub at Penn Medicine

[08/28/23] Alex Gardner for Penn Medicine News: "Penn Medicine will serve a critical role in driving research to reduce pregnancy-related complications and deaths and promote maternal health equity through a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. The $19 million, seven-year grant funds the creation of an implementation science hub as part of the NIH’s new Maternal Health Research of Centers of Excellence initiative.

"Through this initiative, the NIH has funded 10 centers of excellence research centers, the implementation science hub, and a data innovation hub to support research to reduce pregnancy-related complications, deaths, and promote maternal health equity. The implementation science hub team—led by Meghan Lane-Fall, MD, MSHP, the David E. Longnecker Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, and Rebecca Hamm, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine, both in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania—will work with these centers on development, execution, and analysis of their research, to help bring findings into clinical practice and community settings. The hub is called AMETHIST@Penn, which stands for Achieving Maternal Equity and Transforming Health through Implementation Science and Training." Read more of "$19 Million from NIH"

New Penn Research Eyes Closer Integration of Doulas and Hospital Maternity Care

Article features Elizabeth Howell, MD, MPP, and Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE.

[06/21/23] Hoag Levins for the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics: "Long outliers in the modern world of hospital maternity care units, doulas have been making increasing inroads into those clinical spaces as the U.S. struggles to address its maternal mortality crisis. Those advances are likely to be further broadened by the March of Dimes' funding of a new University of Pennsylvania Research Center for Advancing Maternal Health Equity and its research project aimed at determining how doulas can be more closely integrated into maternal care teams." Read more of "New Penn Research Eyes Closer Integration"

Three Penn Teams Awarded for Maternal Health Equity Initiatives

Article features Abike James, MD, Sarita Sonalkar, MD, and Sindhu Srinivas, MD.

[06/20/23] Nicole Fullerton for Penn Medicine News: "For the past several years, Penn Medicine has been taking bold action to reverse maternal health disparities. In the United States, Black women are approximately three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. In addition to higher maternal mortality rates, low-income women and women of color face disparities when accessing key preventive obstetric and gynecologic health services, including screenings, immunizations, contraception, and specialized care.

"As a national leader in obstetrical care, Penn Medicine is taking steps to improve maternal health outcomes and reduce racial and ethnic disparities with a multi-pronged approach that encompasses research, clinical care, and community engagement. For example, a new national March of Dimes research center led by Penn is one of the latest drivers of new research to improve Black maternal health.

"Now, three Penn Medicine groups involved in these efforts have been recognized for their work." Read more of "Three Penn Teams Awarded"

Sindhu Srinivas
Sindhu Srinivas

Remote Blood Pressure Monitoring After Pregnancy May Stave Off Postpartum Health Issues for Women with Preeclampsia

[05/10/23] Alex Gardner for Penn Medicine News: "'Our previous work showed that Heart Safe Motherhood made important blood pressure monitoring easier and eliminated racial disparities in obtaining blood pressures in the two weeks after giving birth,' said study author Adi Hirshberg, MD, director of Obstetrical Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, who along with, senior author of this study, Sindhu Srinivas, MD, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn, developed Heart Safe Motherhood. 'What this study really solidified is that the benefits continue long-term. Close but remote tracking of blood pressure during this short yet pivotal time led to healthier moms months later.'" Read more of "Remote Blood Pressure Monitoring"

AACR: Penn Medicine Preclinical Study Identifies New Target for Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

Article features Fiona Simpkins, MD, and Daniel J. Powell Jr., PhD.

[04/16/23] Meagan Raeke for Penn Medicine News: "Despite recent advances, ovarian cancer remains the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, and there’s a critical need for new treatment options, especially for advanced cancers that grow back after standard of care treatment. Results from a preclinical study, led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, verified a new target for drug-resistant ovarian cancer and provided data to support a treatment approach that is already making its way into clinical trials.

"Sarah Gitto, PhD, an instructor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, will present the findings (Abstract #1133) at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2023." Read more of "AACR: Penn Medicine Preclinical Study"

Can We Intercept Cancer? A New Frontier in Cancer Research

Article features Susan Domchek, MD, and Katherine Nathanson, MD.

[02/28/23] Kirsten Weir for Penn Medicine News: "Imagine cancer as a line on a chalkboard. At the left is a healthy cell. Reading left to right, you can follow a cell's journey as it begins to develop abnormalities, morphs to become a localized cancer, and finally metastasizes to an advanced cancer at the far side of the spectrum. 'As a field, we've been spending a lot of time looking to the right. The opportunity now is to look to the left,' says Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center and the John H. Glick Abramson Cancer Center Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine. 'Can we intercept those precursor lesions before they become cancer?'" Read more of "Can We Intercept Cancer?"

Kotaro Sasaki
Kotaro Sasaki

Rewiring blood cells to give rise to precursors of sperm

[02/21/23] Katherine Unger Baillie for Penn Today: "In the journal eLife, they report on their step-by-step process of rewiring cells. The findings—the first in the marmoset, a small monkey—open new possibilities for studying primate biology and developing novel assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro gametogenesis, a process of generating germ cells, sperm or eggs, in a laboratory dish, akin to how in vitro fertilization involves the generation of an embryo outside the human body.

"'Scientists know how to generate functional sperm and egg from induced pluripotent stem cells in mice, but mouse germ cells are very different from human germ cells,' says Kotaro Sasaki, an assistant professor at Penn Vet. 'By studying marmosets, whose biology more closely resembles ours, we can bridge the gap.'" Read more of "Rewiring blood cells"

New Center Will Tackle Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Article features Elizabeth Howell, MD, MPP, Heather Burris, MD, MPH, and Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE.

[02/14/23] Christina Hernandez Sherwood for Penn Medicine News: "The disparities are stark. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women in the United States, which has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country.

"For years, the University of Pennsylvania has been a leader in working to change that pattern — advancing the field of maternal health equity through widely-cited clinical research, innovative technology, and more. Now, a key national partnership will broaden Penn's reach, making it a focal point for maternal health equity research and racial disparity solutions.

"In January, the University of Pennsylvania became home to the inaugural March of Dimes Research Center for Advancing Maternal Health Equity. Under the leadership of Elizabeth Howell, MD, MPP, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Perelman School of Medicine, the center will leverage Penn's research, technology, and partnerships to address racial disparities in maternal health outcomes — both deaths and serious medical complications — in the United States." Read more of "New Center"

Nadav Schwartz
Nadav Schwartz

ASSET Center Inaugural Seed Grants Will Fund Trustworthy AI Research in Healthcare

Article features Nadav Schwartz, MD.

[01/13/23] Devorah Fischler for Penn Engineering Today: "Combining computational fluid dynamics, machine learning and magnetic resonance imaging, this project will create digital, patient-specific 'fingerprints' that describe the response of hypertensive patients to a family of pressure wave-forms under many possible flow conditions. The computational infrastructure developed in this project aims to provide trustworthy predictions of strong biomarkers for early diagnosis of hypertensive pregnancy disorders in a real-time clinical setting." Read more of "ASSET Center Inaugural Seed Grants"

Rebecca Hamm
Rebecca Hamm

Making Life Easier for Clinicians: The Nudge Unit’s Continued Mission

[01/05/23] Frank Otto for Penn Medicine News: "Another project led by Rebecca Hamm, MD, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will implement a nudge to prompt the use of an 'evidence-based calculator' that could provide decision support to clinicians. For patients at the low end of the risk spectrum, use of this calculator can empower the patient and their clinicians to achieve vaginal deliveries and avoid unnecessary c-sections. At the high end of the risk spectrum, the calculator could enable a faster decision for proceeding with c-section and prevent complications." Read more of "Making Life Easier for Clinicians"

News Article Archive

Kotaro Sasaki
Kotaro Sasaki

Recreating the adrenal gland in a petri dish

[11/21/22] Katherine Unger Baillie for Penn Today: "'This is a proof-of-principle that we can create a system grown in a dish that functions nearly identically to a human adrenal gland in the early stages of development,' says Kotaro Sasaki, senior author and an assistant professor at Penn Vet. 'A platform like this could be used to better understand the genetics of adrenal insufficiency and even for drug screening to identify better therapies for people with these disorders.'

"Sasaki says his team's aim was to use human inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which can give rise to a myriad of different cell types, to mimic the stages of normal human adrenal development. During this process, the cells would get directed to take on the characteristics of the adrenal gland." Read more of "Recreating the adrenal gland"

Monica Mainigi
Monica Mainigi

“Organ-on-a-Chip” Device Provides New Insights into Early-Stage Pregnancy

[11/15/22] Scott Harris for Penn Medicine News: "'With this small, quarter-sized device, we took multiple cell types that are involved in early implantation and then assessed them in the same physiological arrangement that you see in vivo,' said Monica Mainigi, MD, the study’s co-senior author and an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the fellowship director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. 'We wanted to study how the uterus controls embryo implantation, but the current models are insufficient. This process begins very early in pregnancy before most women have even taken a pregnancy test. So, we don't have a lot of ways to study this in humans.'" Read more of "'Organ-on-a-Chip' Device"

Katherine Nathanson
Katherine Nathanson

Penn Study Illuminates Why Cancers Caused by BRCA Mutations Recur

[11/10/22] Meagan Raeke for Penn Medicine News: "These mutations strongly predispose women to breast and ovarian cancers, and these cancers have a high risk of recurrence after initial treatment. In the new study, published this week in Nature Communications, the researchers compared a large set of tumors from patients with primary and recurrent BRCA1/2 mutation-associated breast and ovarian cancers, and found multiple features associated with recurrence, including features that would be expected to improve tumors' ability to repair treatment-caused DNA damage.

"'These results suggest key biological features of therapy-resistant recurrences, which point to new possibilities for treating BRCA1/2-mutation cancers,' said the study’s senior author Katherine Nathanson, MD , the Pearl Basser Professor for BRCA-Related Research in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Center, and Director of Genetics at the Basser Center for BRCA." Read more of "Penn Study Illuminates Why Cancers Caused by BRCA Mutations Recur"

Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell

Five from Penn elected to National Academy of Medicine

[10/17/22] Penn Medicine for Penn Today: "Five experts from the University of Pennsylvania have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the nation's highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Regina Cunningham, Elizabeth Howell, Steven Joffe, Katalin Karikó, and Drew Weissman from the Perelman School of Medicine are among the 100 new members, elected by current NAM members. They join 78 other Penn members who are part of the prestigious group of health care thought leaders, clinicians, and researchers.

"The Academy, formerly the Institute of Medicine, was established in 1970 to advise the nation on medical and health issues, working across disciplines to advance knowledge and accelerate progress in science, medicine, policy, and health equity. New members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health." Read more of "Five from Penn elected to National Academy of Medicine"

Fast Track to Fertility Program Sharply Cuts Time to Treatment, Penn Study Finds

Article features Anuja Dokras, MD, PhD, and Suneeta Senapati, MD.

[10/10/22] Frank Otto for Penn Medicine News: "When struggling to conceive, every second that ticks by feels precious. That makes it easy to get discouraged: 65 percent of those who seek fertility care eventually discontinue treatment, the majority due to stress. That’s why Penn Medicine recently instituted a telemedicine-driven program aimed at seeing patients more quickly and starting treatments sooner. The program, Fast Track to Fertility, cut the time between when patients initially reached out for help to when they received their first treatment by half—getting them on the path to parenthood roughly a month and a half sooner, according to research published in NEJM Catalyst by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania." Read more of "Fast Track to Fertility Program Sharply Cuts Time"

Pregnancy, childbirth, the pandemic, and stress

Article features Michal Elovitz, MD, and Heather Burris, MD, MPH.

[10/05/22] Michele W. Berger for Penn Today: "April 2020 was a confusing and uncertain time. Just weeks after the emergence of the first U.S. cases of COVID-19, guidance on the new virus was changing daily. 'Only grocery stores were open. People were wiping everything down. All the playgrounds were shut,' says Penn psychologist Rebecca Waller. 'It was quite scary for everyone, but we imagined, particularly for pregnant individuals.'

"Waller and colleagues from the Perelman School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) had recently begun working together on an interdisciplinary initiative. They called it the Intergenerational Exposome Project—IGNITE for short—and their aim was to unite traditionally siloed research areas to better understand risk factors for preterm birth and poor pregnancy outcomes." Read more of "Pregnancy, childbirth, the pandemic, and stress"

Katherine Nathanson
Katherine Nathanson

Integrating Genetic Testing in Electronic Health Records Saves Time, Penn Study Finds

[09/21/22] Frank Otto for Penn Medicine News: "'Genetic counselors order testing on multiple patients every day,' said the study's lead author, Katherine Nathanson, MD, the Pearl Basser Professor of BRCA-Related Research and Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn. 'So if you order tests on three patients per day and return results on three patients per day – which is a very reasonable estimate– that means you save 45 minutes per day, based on what we saw. That is a big deal.'

"The average time it took a clinician to order a test for a person's genomic information – data gleaned from personal DNA – through the new process developed by the Penn researchers was two minutes. When clinicians had to go outside of the EHR, test ordering averaged eight minutes, with the longest time being 20 minutes, a 75 percent time savings." Read more of "Integrating Genetic Testing"

Susan Domchek
Susan Domchek

$55M gift creates new ‘Cancer Interception’ Institute at Penn’s Basser Center for BRCA to stop hereditary cancers at the earliest stages

[09/15/22] Holly Auer for Penn Today: "'Over the past 10 years, Basser has become the global epicenter for BRCA research, education, and testing,' said Susan Domchek, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA and the Basser Professor in Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn. 'We now sit at an inflection point where we have the ability to revolutionize the timeline of cancer care. Mindy and Jon's gift to create this Institute holds tremendous promise for families who are living with BRCA mutations—and for the broader field of hereditary cancers—where we are so eager to empower patients with options to erase the cancers that have followed their families for generations.'" Read more of "$55M gift creates new 'Cancer Interception' Institute"

Sindhu Srinivas
Sindhu Srinivas

Penn Medicine Maternal Mortality Prevention Innovation Selected for Federal Racial Equity in Postpartum Care Program

[08/24/22] Hoag Levins for the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics: "It's rare for any innovation in health care delivery to achieve an overnight 80% improvement. Yet, eight years ago, that's what happened with Penn Medicine physicians Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE, and Adi Hirshberg, MD, when they applied then-novel digital technologies to the control of postpartum preeclampsia complications among their OB/GYN patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP)." Read more of "Penn Medicine Maternal Mortality Prevention Innovation Selected"

Nadav Schwartz
Nadav Schwartz

A novel method for monitoring the 'engine' of pregnancy

[08/15/22] Erica K. Brockmeier for Penn Today: "A study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering details a novel method for imaging the placenta in pregnant patients as well as the results of a pilot clinical study. By combining optical measurements with ultrasound, the findings show how oxygen levels can be monitored noninvasively and provides a new way to generate a better understanding of this complex, crucial organ. This research was the result of a collaboration of the groups of the University of Pennsylvania's Arjun Yodh and Nadav Schwartz with colleagues from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and was led by postdoc Lin Wang." Read more of "A novel method"

Trio of Penn Medicine Innovation Projects Receive Independence Blue Cross Grants

Article features Kirstin Leitner, MD, and Courtney Schreiber, MD.

[07/08/22] Frank Otto for Penn Medicine News: "For the second year in a row, a trio of projects from the Center for Health Care Innovation were chosen to receive Clinical Care Innovation Grants from Independence Blue Cross. Each project will receive up to $200,000 toward expanding its work.

"'Independence Blue Cross looks for novel interventions with strong early evidence and high potential to improve value-based care, so winning three awards is meaningful validation of Penn innovation programs,' said Roy Rosin, chief innovation officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and interim executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation. 'Our teams have shown they can make a difference in areas of care and patient populations that could benefit most from change, and with Independence’s partnership, we can advance and scale this work.'" Read more of "Trio of Penn Medicine Innovation Projects"

Kirstin Leitner
Kirstin Leitner

Penn Medicine Chatbot Screening Helps Identify Postpartum Depression

[07/05/22] Sally Sapega for Penn Medicine News: "Around the time Zafman initiated her study, Kirstin Leitner, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at HUP, was already developing Healing at Home, a program to provide vital support for new moms at home, especially during the 'fourth trimester' or those first six weeks after birth. She originally created the program for new parents with uncomplicated routine births wanting to go home early, an effort she pursued with a team as part of an Innovation Accelerator project with the Center for Health Care Innovation. The program’s texting service — a chatbot — allowed them to still remain connected with their care providers. To make communication easier, its automated chatbot, named Penny, used 'natural language processing,' Leitner said. 'That means patients can ask questions and receive answers in a natural way.'" Read more of "Penn Medicine Chatbot Screening"

Jeremy Wang
Jeremy Wang

A newly identified stem cell regulator enables lifelong sperm production

[06/22/22] Katherine Unger Baillie for Penn Today: "Unlike women, who are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, men can continue to produce sperm throughout their adult lives. To do so, they require a constant renewal of spermatogonial stem cells, which give rise to sperm. 

"This reinvigoration of stem cells depends on a newly characterized stem cell self-renewal factor called DOT1L, according to research by Jeremy Wang of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues. When mice lack DOT1L, the team showed, they fail to maintain spermatogonial stem cells, and thus, lack the ability to continuously produce sperm." Read more of "A newly identified stem cell regulator"

Lisa Levine
Lisa Levine

High Blood Pressure Conditions During Pregnancy Increase Cardiovascular Disease Risk 10 Years Later

[06/15/22] Alex Gardner for Penn Medicine News: "'Pregnancy can often be a stress test for future health,' said lead author Lisa Levine, MD, MSCE, the Michael T. Mennuti, MD, Associate Professor in Reproductive Health, chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine, and co-director of the Pregnancy and Heart Disease Program at Penn Medicine. 'Many complications of pregnancy, such as HDP and preterm birth, are associated with increased risks later in life. We knew from epidemiologic data that patients who have had high blood pressure in pregnancy (or HDP) are at higher risk of heart disease later in life, but it had not been evaluated to this extent at the 10-year mark. We looked at this question in a group of people, largely Black women, who are at a higher risk of both HDP and heart disease.'" Read more of "High Blood Pressure Conditions During Pregnancy"

Lisa Levine
Lisa Levine

Making a Game of It: Contests Help New Moms Increase Their Steps

[04/20/22] Brandon Lausch for Penn Medicine News: "The dangers posed by these and similar conditions, known together as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), are better understood than ever. Nevertheless, successful strategies for improving lifestyle factors like physical activity in this population have remained elusive. Gamification has been successfully used in various healthcare disciplines and beyond, but this is the first time it has been tested in women with HDPs. With that in mind, Lewey and the study’s senior author, Lisa Levine, MD, the Michael T. Mennuti, MD, associate professor in Reproductive Health and director of the Pregnancy and Heart Disease Program, set out to apply it in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Penn Medicine." Read more of "Making a Game of It"

Ronny Drapkin
Ronny Drapkin

Key to Detecting Ovarian Cancer Early May Be in the Fallopian Tubes

[03/24/22] Caren Begun for Penn Medicine News: "'For a long time experts studied the ovaries in the hopes of finding answers to assist with earlier diagnosis and detection of ovarian cancer, so knowing that these tumors start in the fallopian tubes opens up so many possibilities for prevention and detection, which can have a tremendous impact on standard of care for these patients,' said Ronny Drapkin, MD, PhD, director of the OCRC, an associate professor of Pathology in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a gynecologic cancer researcher with the Basser Center at Penn. 'We're even seeing this in the news today, with Chris Evert's early ovarian cancer diagnosis, which was found in the fallopian tube after she was tested for a BRCA mutation.'" Read more of "Key to Detecting Ovarian Cancer"

CHOP and Penn Medicine to Lead Philadelphia Regional Center for Children's Environmental Health

Article features Trevor Penning, PhD, and Rebecca Simmons, MD.

[03/21/22] Brandon Lausch for Penn Medicine News: "Children in the Greater Philadelphia area face a number of environmental threats to their health, including lead poisoning, asthma from air pollution, and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Now, with funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine have come together to address these hazards and protect children who live in the region’s most vulnerable communities." Read more of "CHOP and Penn Medicine to Lead Philadelphia Regional Center"

P. Jeremy Wang
P. Jeremy Wang

Revealing the mysterious biology of a fundamental process: reproduction

[01/20/22] Katherine Unger Baillie for Penn Today: "Reproduction is a complex process, requiring a huge variety of molecular and cellular interactions, many aspects of which remain a mystery to science.

"Solving some of these mysteries drives the curiosity and research of P. Jeremy Wang, professor of developmental biology in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. Wang also directs the Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research. For the last two decades, his lab has focused on understanding the process of meiosis, the special type of cell division that gives rise to germ cells: sperm and eggs." Read more of "Revealing the mysterious biology"

Janos Tanyi
Janos Tanyi

FDA Approves “Glowing Tumor” Imaging Drug to Better Identify Ovarian Cancer Cells Using Approach Pioneered by Surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania

[11/30/21] Caren Begun for Penn Medicine News: "'Lighting up cancer, which helps to identify lesions that may be difficult to find—especially in the presence of scar tissue or other organ damage—enables more complete identification and surgical removal of cancer that could have otherwise been missed,' said Janos L. Tanyi, MD, PhD, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn and Principal Investigator at Penn's clinical trial site for Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies. 'This FDA approval offers more precise surgical intervention for patients with ovarian cancer who face a high risk of recurrence after their initial treatment.'" Read more of "FDA Approves 'Glowing Tumor' Imaging Drug"

Using Race to Diagnose Anemia During Pregnancy May Increase Anemia at Delivery and Poor Outcomes

Article features Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE, and Rebecca Feldman Hamm, MD, MSCE.

[07/22/21] Alex Gardner for Penn Medicine News: "Clinicians should not take race into account when diagnosing anemia in pregnant patients and pursuing interventions, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. While national guidelines define anemia (low iron levels) differently depending on whether a pregnant patient is Black because lower iron levels are more common among Black women, the researchers found Black patients with no diagnosed anemia during pregnancy were more likely to have anemia at time of delivery compared to non-Black patients. The results suggest that, in order to intervene early and decrease risk of poor health outcomes and a need for blood transfusions during delivery, Black and non-Black pregnant patients should be treated with the same thresholds when evaluated for anemia. The findings are published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology." Read more of "Using Race to Diagnose Anemia"

Penn Medicine's first living donor uterus transplant

Article features Kathleen E. O'Neill, MD, MTR, and Nawar Latif, MD, MPH, MSCE.

[07/20/21] Sophie Kluthe for Penn Today: "As proud new mom, Chelsea Jovanovich tenderly placed her newborn son into Cheryl Cichonski-Urban's arms, the two women marveled at baby Telden's angelic features, sweet disposition, and one other remarkable detail that two moms don't typically share: The uterus where Telden spent months growing inside Jovanovich's body is the same uterus that brought Urban's children into the world about a decade before. It was a profound moment that marked a special bond between the two prior strangers involved in Penn Medicine's first-ever living donor uterus donation." Read more of "Penn Medicine's first living donor uterus transplant"

Black and White Women Have Same Mutations Linked to Breast Cancer Risk

Article features Susan M. Domchek, MD, and Katherine L. Nathanson, MD.

[06/11/21] Steve Graff for Penn Medicine News: "The prevalence of genetic mutations associated with breast cancer in Black and white women is the same, according to a new JAMA Oncology study of nearly 30,000 patients led by researchers in the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center. About five percent of both Black and white women have a genetic mutation that increases their risk of breast cancer.

"'The findings challenge past, smaller studies that found Black women face a greater genetic risk and the suggestion that race should be an independent factor when considering genetic testing,' said first author Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA. 'We shouldn't make changes to testing guidelines based on race alone. Rather, our efforts should focus on ensuring equal access to and uptake of testing to minimize disparities in care and outcomes.'" Read more of "Black and White Women Have Same Mutations"

Janos Tanyi
Janos Tanyi

"Electronic Nose" Accurately Sniffs Out Hard-to-Detect Cancers

[06/01/21] Steve Graff for Penn Medicine News: "'It's an early study but the results are very promising,' [A. T. Charlie Johnson, PhD] said. 'The data shows we can identify these tumors at both advanced and the earliest stages, which is exciting. If developed appropriately for the clinical setting, this could potentially be a test that's done on a standard blood draw that may be part of your annual physical.'

"Co-authors include Erica L. Carpenter, PhD, director of the Circulating Tumor Material Laboratory and research assistant professor in the Perelman School of Medicine, Janos Tanyi, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Cynthia Otto, DVM, PhD, director of the Working Dog Center and professor at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet). The late George Preti, PhD, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, is also co-author." Read more of "Electronic Nose"

Kotaro Sasaki
Kotaro Sasaki

The origin of reproductive organs

[05/04/21] Katherine Unger Baillie for Penn Today"Early in human development, during the first trimester of gestation, a fetus may have XX or XY chromosomes that indicate its sex. Yet at this stage a mass of cells known as the bipotential gonad that ultimately develops into either ovaries or testes has yet to commit to its final destiny.

"While researchers had studied the steps that go into the later stages of this process, little has been known about the precursors of the bipotential gonad. In a new study published in Cell Reports and co-led by Kotaro Sasaki of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, an international team lays out the detailed development of this key facet of sexual determination in two mammalian models." Read more of "The origin of reproductive organs"

Lisa Levine
Lisa Levine

Living in a Majority-Black Neighborhood Linked to Severe Maternal Morbidity

[04/12/21] Lauren Ingeno for Penn Medicine News: "'This study gives us a blueprint for addressing racial disparities in health care at the neighborhood and population-level,' said co-author Lisa Levine, MD, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn. 'Investing in neighborhoods that have been historically segregated, lacked access to government services, and subjected to racism will help to improve not only severe maternal morbidity, but also a host of other health outcomes for patients.'" Read more of "Living in a Majority-Black Neighborhood"

Edward Morrisey
Edward Morrisey

Penn Medicine Study Illuminates the Molecular Details of Lung Development

[03/24/21] Melissa Moody for Penn Medicine News: "'This study provides foundational information to guide our understanding of how lung function develops, and how the early postnatal period of life is a time of rapid adjustment in the lungs to optimize gas exchange,' said study senior investigator Edward Morrisey, PhD, the Robinette Foundation Professor of Medicine, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, and director of the Penn-CHOP Lung Biology Institute at Penn Medicine.

"The trove of new data is likely to be valuable in the development of future treatments for early-life lung problems, including insufficient lung development in premature babies. It may also speed the search for better therapies for pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two of the leading causes of death worldwide." Read more of "Penn Medicine Study Illuminates the Molecular Details"

Mutations Commonly Linked to Breast Cancer Found to Pose No Increased Risk, Population Study Reveals

Article features Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, and Susan M. Domchek, MD.

[01/20/21] Steve Graff for Penn Medicine News: "Several genetic mutations previously linked to breast cancer and included on commercial genetic tests, including direct-to-consumer tests, were found not to increase a woman’s risk of disease, according to a population study of more than 64,000 women published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine from several institutions, including Penn Medicine. The findings show that risks associated with mutations for women in the general population are often lower than previous estimates, and, importantly, provide new insights informing the debate over whom should be recommended for genetic testing." Read more of "Mutations Commonly Linked to Breast Cancer"