Appointment of David A. Wolk, MD, and Edward B. Lee, MD, PhD, as Co-Directors of the Institute on Aging

January 18, 2022

To:PSOM Faculty and Staff

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

We are pleased to announce the appointments of David A. Wolk, MD, and Edward. B. Lee, MD, PhD, as co-directors of the Institute on Aging (IOA), succeeding Dr. John Q. Trojanowski. Their appointment takes effect immediately.

Dr. Wolk, who serves as director of the Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (PADRC) and co-director of the Penn Memory Center, is Professor of Neurology and Chief of the Division of Cognitive Neurology. Dr. Lee, who is the PADRC associate director, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Longtime collaborators with extensive administrative experience and complementary expertise, both are national leaders in their fields.

Dr. Wolk’s primary clinical interest is the diagnosis and care of individuals with a variety of neurodegenerative conditions.  His research, which has had sustained NIH support since 2003, focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of memory and cognitive decline associated with aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment/Alzheimer’s Disease. His work is also directed at examining biomarkers, including behavioral and neuroimaging, that differentiate healthy aging from early AD. At the national level, Dr. Wolk has served on the Steering Committee of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, Chair of the Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART) Neuroimaging Professional Interest Area, and is a subcommittee member for the NINDS Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias (ADRD) Summit 2022.

Dr. Lee is principal investigator of the Translational Neuropathology Research Laboratory (TNRL), which supports studies on the molecular neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease, trauma related neurodegeneration, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and frontotemporal degeneration. He has contributed to our fundamental understanding of numerous aging-related neurodegenerative diseases, including the recent discovery of a novel form of dementia called vacuolar tauopathy linked to mutations in VCP. Dr. Lee has been a key investigator in the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research Brain Bank, including leadership of the PADRC Neuropathology Core, the Penn Frontotemporal Degeneration Center Neuropathology and Genetics Core, and the international CONNECT-TBI Consortium Brain Bank Core. He also co-leads the Penn Center on Alpha-Syunuclein Strains Neuropathology, Biomarkers and Genetics Core.  In addition to his expertise in neurodegenerative diseases, Dr. Lee is an attending diagnostic neuropathologist at HUP.

Established in 1979, the IOA is a model of collaborative science at Penn. Through its cross-cutting network of investigators, educational programs, and funding opportunities, it has catalyzed a robust scientific community focused on improving the health of older adults. A wide variety of work across the clinical to basic spectrum includes innovative research on neurodegenerative diseases, frailty, longevity, and geroscience, among other areas.

In their new roles as IOA co-directors, Dr. Wolk will serve as Director of Clinical Research and Dr. Lee will serve as Director of Mechanistic Research. Their combined leadership marks the beginning of new era in aging related research at Penn that will further enhance multidisciplinary collaborations and accelerate translational impact.

Drs. Wolk and Lee have articulated a shared vision for IOA that will sustain the breadth and depth of research on aging and neurodegenerative research at Penn, while broadening IOA’s perspective and accelerating the quantity and quality of translational work linking basic and clinical programs. A key goal is  to bridge geroscience and other aging-related research with  research on Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias (AD/ADRD), an approach that aligns  with efforts at the National Institutes of Aging to recruit multiple disciplines into the AD/ADRD space.

We are indebted to Dr. Trojanowski for his transformative leadership of the IOA over the past two decades, and thank John Dani and the Search Committee for identifying Drs. Wolk and Lee as his successors. Please join us in congratulating them on their appointment as IOA co-directors and supporting them in their new roles.