Planning for Exciting PSOM Investments

November 22, 2021

To:PSOM Community

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, EVP/Dean
Jonathan A. Epstein, MD, EVD/CSO


Last week, Penn President Amy Gutmann announced the launch of an exciting, $750M investment to advance Penn’s pathbreaking contributions to innovative and impactful areas of medicine, public health, science, and technology.


As the announcement detailed, the plan includes major new investments for the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) in research spaces, priority research programs, and faculty recruitment and retention. We write today to share more details about each of these efforts. It is important to emphasize that these investments offer a broader opportunity that will benefit our entire organization, beyond those who will occupy new laboratory space or work directly in areas of strategic focus within the initiative. Through this bold strategy, we will accelerate our path to not only sustain but expand our excellence in every domain of our mission. In a fully integrated academic medical institution like ours, strength in each of our mission areas is synergistic and represents one of the most differentiating aspects of Penn Medicine.


Just as we have made investments to build new clinical and educational facilities like the Pavilion and the Jordan Medical Education Center (JMEC) that place us in the vanguard, it is critically important that our space for research keeps pace with the continued growth in funding for our faculty’s innovative ideas. While our total sponsored research portfolio has grown by more than 30 percent over the past five years, research space has grown by only four percent. Plans are underway for a combination of short-, medium-, and longer-term improvements that blend leased space, renovations, and the construction of a new research building to create an additional 400,000+ square feet of wet and dry research space on campus to equip our faculty and their teams with state-of-the-art space in which to conduct their work. This would represent approximately a 15 percent increase in our total space. However, it also provides an opportunity to design the space for our current and future needs for collaboration, conferences, core facilities, and other infrastructure.


Programmatic and capital support will be deployed in areas of rapidly evolving biomedical research, including, among others: mRNA biology, vaccine development, immune health, cellular engineering, and gene therapy, health services and policy; and infrastructure such as bio-banking, microscopy, mass spectrometry, and other core technologies.


At the same time, we must continue to invest in our most important asset – our people. With the help of these new funds, we will aim to accelerate recruitment and retention of highly promising research faculty, with a sharp focus on support for research faculty who are underrepresented in science and medicine. These efforts are closely connected with our commitment to health equity for our patients and the communities we serve – our work in this space must be rooted in a diverse, inclusive community for learning, teaching, research, and patient care within our own walls.


These new investments are being made possible, in part, by funds generated from Penn Medicine inventions, which have been licensed for commercial use in an array of fields, including mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, gene therapy, and CAR T cell therapy. In addition to providing royalty and milestone payments to the University and School of Medicine, these licensing agreements – which have increased steadily in number over the past decade – also provide significant resources for sponsored research support, clinical trials, and unique collaborations across our institution. It is a tremendous point of pride that the innovation born within our laboratories is being deployed to save lives across the world, and we are committed to reinvesting these resources responsibly to foster additional breakthroughs that will define medicine as the 21st century unfolds.


This work will take place in phases, including consultation with leaders from across PSOM and approvals from the Board of Trustees. In the coming months, we look forward to sharing more about our plans and engaging in discussions to shape our future together. Thank you for your dedication in all you do.