Announcement from the EVD/CSO


 Please join us in extending our gratitude and very best wishes to Susan R. Passante, who has informed us of her plans to retire as Senior Executive Director of Research and Research Training for the Office of the Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer, a role in which she has thoughtfully and admirably served for 22 years.  In a stellar career at Penn that has spanned three decades, Susan leaves an indelible mark on our University and at the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM).

Ms. Passante has been a trusted partner to the Chief Scientific Officer, beginning in 1998 with Glen Gaulton, PhD, and currently with Jon Epstein, MD.  As a senior advisor on research conduct and practices, the scope of Susan’s portfolio is extensive.  Whether you are a trainee, faculty, or staff member, her support along with the processes and decisions she guided enabled and empowered your work. Items that we now take for granted such as research space oversight, publication tracking, centralized core facilities, institutional pilot funds, and letters of support were all launched under Susan’s tenure. Similarly, the school policies on authorship, conflicts of interest, and of center/institute constitution and reporting were all co-authored by Susan.

In a career at Penn that spanned three decades, Susan moved through positions of increasing responsibility at the department, school and central university levels.  She began her career as Grants Coordinator for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, before taking on progressively responsible positions within Research Services, culminating in her appointment as Senior Executive Director in the Perelman School of Medicine in 2007.  Prior to joining Penn, she held several management positions with a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Park Service, including supervising the management of fifty educational visitor center bookstores located throughout the Southwest. Upon Susan’s relocation to Philadelphia, we are fortunate that she redirected her passion to supporting biomedical research and Penn’s academic mission from saving the environment and the American landscape.

Susan’s dedication to the advancement of science and citizenship are hallmarks of her career.  As just a few examples, working alongside faculty leadership, she administratively led the School’s response to multiple funding opportunities including ARRA, PADOH, NIH Roadmap, and the NIH Infrastructure Program, advancing our scholarship through the receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars in faculty funding. Not surprisingly, colleagues across Penn frequently turn to Susan for her knowledge and guidance.  These among many, many other items serve as part of Susan’s legacy, each of which were designed to maximize the impact of our scholarship and to ensure that the conduct of our work was seamless.

That all said – it is Susan’s passion for the faculty and this institution that serve as her guiding light. As she often said, Penn is great only because of our people. In that vein, Susan always placed the individual at the core of every decision and was sure to remind the leadership of the same! Her dedication and personal warmth to us all goes beyond words.

Quite fittingly, as she closes this chapter of her career, Susan was recognized for her dedication to the PSOM community as a member of the Mission Continuity and Pandemic Response Team, which was awarded in this year’s Models of Excellence, the highest staff honor presented by the University.  This award truly exemplifies Susan’s work ethic and professionalism, upon which we have relied and for which we are so deeply grateful.

As Susan says goodbye on June 30, please join us in thanking her for her incredible years of service and wishing her the very best in her next chapter.