IFI Members in the News
June 29, 2015
Cancer Immunotherapy research led by Carl June, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Translational Research in the Abramson Cancer Center, is detailed in a Wall Street Journal column by Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and founding president of Facebook, in which he calls for his fellow young Internet leaders to use their talents and wealth to transform the world of philanthropy.
June 19, 2015
In an editorial published in the American Journal of Transplantation in response to two new studies, Deirdre Sawinski, MD and Jonathan Maltzman, MD, PhD, both Assistant Professors of Medicine in the Renal, Electrolyte and Hypertension Division, emphasize that environmental factors can alter the response to organ transplantation. "These studies show that a high fat-diet impacts the immune response and skews it toward rejection and this suggests that avoidance of a high-fat diet in our transplant recipients may have benefits in terms of decreased rejection episodes in addition to known cardiovascular benefit," Maltzman told Reuters Health.
Survey Reveals Americans Have Potentially Dangerous Misconceptions About Heart Failure
June 17, 2015
Nearly six million Americans currently live with heart failure, yet a recent national survey found that nearly half of those surveyed got fundamental facts about heart failure wrong, according to Medical Express. The article includes a video of Mariell Jessup, MD, an associate chief of clinical affairs in the Division of Cardiology and medical director of the Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Center, educating people about heart failure.
Penn Researchers Receive $2.9 Million in Awards from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to Launch Biomedical Research Careers
June 17, 2015
Two Penn researchers, Igor Brodsky, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathobiology and Rahul M. Kohli, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Medicine, will each receive the Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease award. This award provides $500,000 over five years to support accomplished investigators at the assistant professor level to study pathogeneises, with a focus on the interplay between human and microbial biology.
June 16, 2015
A study by Medicine's Ran Reshef and David Porter shows that screening for high T cell counts may optimize the donor selection process for stem cell transplant patients.
June 15, 2015
Greater HDL cholesterol efflux capacity is linked to a lower incidence of coronary heart disease events. "We were very interested to find that HDL cholesterol efflux capacity measured in healthy persons predicted risk of a future cardiovascular event even after adjusting for the HDL-C level," Daniel J. Rader, MD, who directs the Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine and Lipid Clinic Medicine and chairs the Department of Genetics, told Reuters Health. He is also the lead author of the Lancet Dibetes and Endocrinology study.
June 10, 2015
A paper by the Perelman School of Medicin'e John Wherry and lab members examine how T cell exhaustion has possible implications for cancer and antiviral therapies.
June 3, 2015
Sometimes even cells get tired. When the T cells of your immune system are forced to deal over time with cancer or a chronic infection such as HIV or hepatitis C, they can develop "T cell exhaustion," becoming less effective and losing their ability to attack and destroy the invaders of the body. While the PD-1 protein pathway has long been implicated as a primary player in T cell exhaustion, a major question has been whether PD-1 actually directly causes exhaustion. A new paper from the lab of John Wherry, PhD, a professor of Microbiology and Director of the Institute for Immunology, in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, seems to -- at least partially -- let PD-1 off the hook. The paper was published this week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
May 29, 2015
Beatrice Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Micriobilogy, commented in an article in Science magazine about work suggesting a gene in some wild chimpanzees infected with the AIDS virus closesly resembled one that protects humans from HIV. "I'm excited about their finding an allele closely related to B57, albeit in preliminary experiments," Hagn says. "It could be protective, and it could be quickly checked by looking at all the other chimp populations that harbor SIVcpz."
May 29, 2015
Panel tests can identify cancer linked mutations. Med's Susan Domcheck and Katherine Nathanson say more research is needed to counsel patients.
May 29, 2015
For decades, doctors have fussed over patients' HDL, or "good" cholesterol, levels, prescribing medications to boost them if they drop below the rcommended benchmark. Now, a Lancet study from Penn suggests that focus has been misplaced. Instead of sheer amount, what matters more is how well HDL works to remove fats from blood vessels. "HDL is modestly useful as a predictor of rish, but we're moving toward a time when we think measurement of HDL function might, in fact, be a better way, " senior author Daniel Rader, MD, director, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine and the Chair of the Department of Genetics, told WHYY.
May 27, 2015
HDL is the “good cholesterol” that helps remove fat from artery walls, reversing the process that leads to heart disease. Yet recent drug trials and genetic studies suggest that simply pushing HDL levels higher doesn’t necessarily reduce the risk of heart disease. Now, a team led by senior author Daniel J. Rader, MD, director of the Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine and Lipid Clinic at Penn Medicine, has shown in a large, forward-looking epidemiological study that a person’s HDL function—the efficiency of HDL molecules at removing cholesterol—may be a better measure of coronary heart disease risk and a better target for heart-protecting drugs. The new study was reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
May 26, 2015
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate to highlight the recent innovations in cancer reserach and the importance of federal funding for these efforts, including gene therapy research led by Carl H. June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Translational Research in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.
May 19, 2015
James Hoxie, MD, director of the Penn Cener for AIDS Research, was quoted in a Scientist article on Timothy Brown, the "Berlin Patient" who was "functionally" cured of HIV. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, he received a stem cell transplant from a donor who had the CCR5 mutation in both parents and has remained off drugs since 2008. "Nobody would dare to use the word 'cure' before this happened," Hoxie said. But Brown's cure "has generated an entirely new field of science that we boldly call cure or eradication research."
May 4, 2015
David Weiner and members of his laboratory in the Perelman School of Meidcine received Best Academic Research Team honors at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington.
April 28, 2015
Vet's Jorge Iván Alvarez co-led a study on a protein that helps maintain the blood-brain barrier, lessening the effects of a multiple sclerosis-like disease in an animal model.
April 28, 2015
Carl June, Abramson Cancer Center gene therapy reseracher, ahd received an American Association for Cancer Research award for his innovative work in immunology.
April 20, 2015
The immunotherapy drug known as PD-1 bested the stadard of care in advanced melanoma, researchers reported at the 2015 AACR Annual Meeting. Patients on pembrolizumab (PD-1) had better overall survival and progression free survival rates compared to patients on ipilimumab. "Again and again, new immune therapies are producing meaningful outcomes for our patients, "Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, a professor of Medicine in the division of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center told Forbes. " The breakthrough drug approved four years ago is now seemingly surpassed, with less toxicity."
April 27, 2015
Cancer researchers and oncologists gathered in Philadelphia last week for the 2015 AACR Annual Meeting, where a lot of focus was on immunotherapy, reports WHYY. The piece featured an abstract from Robert Vonderheide, MD, PhilD, a professor in the division of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center and David Bajoy, MD, and instructor of Hematology/Oncology, on a new combination of immune drugs for melanoma patients. Out of 24 participants, two patients went into complete remission and four others improved. "These types of extroardinary responses achieved by immuntherapy are actually becoming ordinary," said Vonderheid. "Patients are walking away from their cancer forever."
April 27, 2015
Pablo Tebas, Carl June and Bruce Levine from Medicine's Center for AIDS Research received a presigious award for their personalized gene therapy work in HIV.
April 24, 2015
A study by David Bajor and Robert Vonderheide of the Abramson Cancer Center found a combination of treatments is sage and elicitys a clinical response in melanoma patients.
April 17, 2015
The American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, expected to draw over 18,000 cancer researchers and physicians from around the world, begins this weekend in Philadelphia, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's a stunning meeting," said Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, professor of Medicine in the division of Hematology/Oncology in the Abramson Cancer Center. "It instigates collaborations. It helps fund our work. It provides a voice for the work we do."
April 15, 2015
In continuing coverage, a segment from Nightline features Penn patients Michele and Matt Crane, and their kidney transplant surgeons, Peter Abt, MD, associate professor of Surgery, and Ali Naji, MD, PHD, surgical director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program. Last month, Matt and Michele participated in what is now the longest multi-hospital kidney transplant chain in U.S. history. Over the course of three months, 68 lives were changed when 34 kidneys were swapped between 26 different hospitals across the nation. "It is a huge operation, but it's driven by the hears and minds of people who want to do it. If there was no love in this, it wouldn't happen," said Naji.
April 14, 2015
In continuing coverage, a post from Dr. Francis Collins to his NIH Director's Blog reports on the recent Penn-led study published in JAMA which found that among women with mutations in BRCA1/2 genes, the answer to whether a particular individual will develop breast cancer, ovarian cancer, both types of cancer, or neither cancer appears to vary considerably depending upon the precise type of mutation inherited and the locations of these mutations in the DNA sequences of the genes. The post states that the new work by Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, associate professor of Population Science in the Abramson Cancer Center, Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, associate professor of Medicine and director of Genetics in the Basser Center for BRCA, and collegues represents a significant step toward more precise and individualized risk calculations.
April 14, 2015
A sudy led by Timothy Rebbeck and Katherine Nathanson of Medicine found that the risk of breast and ovarian cancer differs depending on a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
April 13, 2015
In a Medpage Today "10 Questions" article, Mariell Jessup, MD, associate chief of clinical affairs in the division of Cardiology and medical director of the Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Center, shares her thoughts on a variety of topics - from treatment barriers to advice to other physicians.
April 9, 2015
A Philadelphia In uirer story examines progress in various types of immunotherapiesfor the treatment of cancer. "We have tried to learn from the early days of gene therapy and avoid the hype," said Carl June, MD, a profesor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Translational Research in Abramson Cancer Center. "What I say in general is, it's the early days, so we don't know everything. We need to have decades of observations. But so far, the toxicity [of immunotherapy] has been less" than conventional oncology weapons.
Penn Medicine, Abramson Cancer Center Team Continues Progress in Investigational Gene Therapy for Blood Cancers
April 8, 2015
The University of Pennsylvania research team behind pioneering studies of an investigational personalized cellular therapy for blood cancers has announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued several new patents on technologies related to this therapy, known as CTL019. "We are proud to have successifully treated patients with advanced leukemia and lymphoma and to continue refining this therapy and developing new CARs to treat other types of cancers." said Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, and director of Translational Reserach in the Abramson Cancer Center.
April 8, 2015
In continuing coverage, WHYY radio reported on a new study from Penn researchers which shows that the type and location of BRCA mutation helps determine whether women are more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer. "It doesn't mean you won't get breast cancer or you won't get ovarian cancer," said senior author Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, associate professor of Medicine and director of Genetics in the Basser Center for BRCA and chirf oncogenomics physician in the Abramson Cancer Center. "There's just some relative differences depending on where the mutation is." Lead author Timothy Rebbect, PhD, associate professor of Population Sciences in the Abramson Cancer Center, was quoted in outlets across the antion, influding Reuters Health, HealthDay, and NBC News.
April 7, 2015
HIV-positive kidney-transplant patients had better outcomes when compared to patients with hepatits C, accourding to a study by Deirdre Sawinski of Medicine.
April 1, 2015
Valder Arruda and Julie Crudele of CHOP and the Perelman School of Medicine have produced a mutant protein with high blood-clotting power to treat hemophilia in dogs.
March 30, 2015
A three-part PBS film "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies," presented by Ken Burns, will feature the story of the first pediatric patient to receive Penn's modified T cell therapy for leukemia. Carl June, MD, a professor in the department of Pathology and Laboratoy Medicine and director of Translational Research in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, and Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, a professor of Pediatrics and director of Translational Research in the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, are featured in the film, along with Emily Whitehead and her parents, Tom and Kari Whitehead. Multiple news outlets covered Penn's role in the fil, which ends with an examination of promising Immunotherapies. The film, which is based on the Pullitzer Prize-winning book, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer." will air on PBS affiliates across the United States from 9-11 pm for three consecutive evenings, beginning tonight. Emily Whitehead's story appears in the film's final night, April 1.
March 27, 2015
In continuing coverage of Angelia Jolie Pits's decision to publicly discuss preventive measures taken to reduce the risk of cancers associated with BRCA mutations, Narure reports on the state of genetic testing. Thousands of possible mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes elevate a woman's risk of deloping cancer, but it is impossible to say whether many of these mutaions predispose someone to cancer, because researchers have not seen them enough to know their effects with statistical certainty. "As more and more people are tested, and you identify more and more people with a certain variant, it can go from being a variant of unknown significance to a benighn variant, it can gr from being a variant of unknown significance to a benign variant," syas Katherine Nathanson, MD associate professor of Medicine and director of Genetics at the Basser Research Center for BRCA in the Abramson Cancer Center.
March 24, 2015
The Immunology Graduate Group is #6 again this year in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of Best Graduate Schools. According to U.S. News, Penn is one of "the best science schools for immunology/infectious disease." See the U.S. News & World Report website for a list of programs.
March 24, 2015
Researchers like Carl June of the Perelman School of Medicine are investigating a potential cancer cure by using manipulated virus cells to achieve remision.
March 23, 2015
Carl June of Medicine, an expert on cancer and HIV, has been awarded the 2015 Paul Ehrilich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for his work in immunotherapy.
March 18, 2015
A PBS NewsHour segment traces the story of Penn Medicine's work developing and testing an experimental personalized cellular therapy for cancer, highlighting both promising results in clinical trials for patients with blood cancers and the potential of the therapy in a newly launched trial for patients with brain cancer. Members of the research team including Carl June, MD, David Porter, MD Marcela Maus, MD, PhD, and Donald O'Rourke, MD are quoted in the story, along with a leukemia patient who is in remission after receiving the therapy last year.
March 17, 2015
A study led by Medicine's Andy Minn suggests that radiation along with two immunotherapies may be more effective in helping shrink metastatic melanoma tumors.
March 2, 2015
Two of the four groups of human AIDS viruses originated in western lowland African gorillas, according to research by Beatrice Hahn of the Perelman School of Medicine.
Radiation Plus Immunotherapy Combo Revs up Immune System to Better Attack Metastatic Melanoma, Penn Study Suggests
March 10, 2015
Treating metastatic melanoma with a tripple threat - including readiation therapy and two immunotherapies that target the CTLA4 and PD-1 pathways - could elicit an optimal response in more patients, ont that will boost the immune system's attack on the disease, suggests a new study from a multidisciplinary team of reearchers from Penn's Abramson Cancer Center published today in Nature. The study was led by authors Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Radiation Onclolgy, Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, the Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research, Amit Maity, MD, PhD, professor of Radiation and Oncology, E. John Wherry, PhD, professor of Microbiology and director of the Insitute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lynn M. Schuchter, MD chief of Hematology/Oncology at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.
March 5, 2015
In continuing coverage, a study showing that two of the four known groups of human AIDS viruses (HIV-1 groups O and P) originated in western lowland gorillas, appeared in several outlets. The international research team conducted a comprehensive survey of simian immunodeficiency viral infection in African gorillas. Coauthor Beatrice Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Microbiology, was quoted.
March 3, 2015
Two of the four known groups of human AIDS viruses (HIV-1 groups O and P) have originated in western lowland gorillas, according to an international team of scientists. They conducted a comprehensive survey of simian immunodeficiency viral infection in African gorillas, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Coauthor Beatrice Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Microbiology, was quoted in several outlets, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
March 2, 2015
A VICE special report on efforts to treat cancer using the power of viruses and other immunotherapeutic approaches profiled Carl June, MD , a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Translational Research in the Abramson Cancer Center, and Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, a professor of Pediatrics and director of Translational Research in the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Two pediatric patients who participated in the clinical trials of the Penn-developed cellular therapy known as CRL019 were also featured in the show.
February 20, 2015
Reporting in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, Shruthi Ravimohan, PhD, a research associate in the division of Infectious Diseases, and Gregory P. Bisson, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor in the division of Infectious Diseases and a senior scholar at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, evaluated over 200 patients in Botswana before and after they began antiretroviral therapy, and found several immune biomarkers that may help better stratify patients, and guide future research and treatments before HIV treatment begins.
February 17, 2015
Investigators with the National Institutes of Health have discovered the genomic switches of a blood cell key to regulating the human immune system. The findings, published in Nature today, open the door to new research and development in drugs and personalized medicine to help those with autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis. The lead author, Golnaz Vahedi, Ph.D., will be joining the Perelman School of Medicine in May 2015 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics.
February 16, 2015
A Fox News segment details progress in Penn's gene therapy trials for blood cancers, including the story of a patient who was one of the first participants in studies to test this new approach, who remains cancer-free more than four years later. One of the trial's leaders, David Porter, MD, a professor of Hematology-Oncology and director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation in the Abramson Cancer Center, is quoted in the story, and in a San Diego Union Tribune article recapping the results of the trials so far.
February 16, 2015
David Roth, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Personalized Diagnostics and chair of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, explained to the audience of SiriusXM's "POTUS" radio show that precision medicine helps diagnose individuals more accurately. Doctors are able to pinpoint a particular kind of illness a patient has and treat it more effectively, instead of a process of trial and error.
February 16, 2015
A Philadelphia Inquirer article asks: Can a modified vegan diet -- heavy of tofu, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low on saturated and trans fats -- significantly help with heart disease? Daniel Rader, MD director of the Preventative Cardiovascular Program, says that avoiding saturated and trans fats is the most important dietary change one can make to reduce the risk of heart disease.
February 10, 2015
A Prevention magazine article about improving your "heart age" includes advice from Daniel Rader, MD, director of the Preventative Cardiovascular Program. He says that for someone with a family history of heart disease, in addition to leading a healthy lifestyle, taking a statin can further reduce the risk of a heart attack.
February 9, 2015
A somatic gene mutation is a potential molecular marker for rare adrenal tumors, according to research by Katherine Nathanson and Lauren FIsbein of Medicine.
Inflammation Application: How Tumor-Causing Cells are Recruited in Cancers Linked to Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
February 9, 2015
Investigators including, Dmitry Gabrilovich, MD, PhD have demonstrated what is happening at a cellular level that allows for chronic inflammation to cause a variety of cancers; inflammatory conditions are associated with a specific phenotype of myeloid cells called immature granulocytic cells, they report.
February 9, 2015
Doctors treating patients battling both HIV and tuberculosis (TB) - many of whom live in Africa are faced with the decision when to start those patients on entrepreneurial therapy (ART) while they are being treated with antibiotics for active TB disease. Reporting in a new study published online this week in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers under the Botswana-UPenn Partnership, including Shruthl Ravimohan, PhD, a research associate in the division of Infectious Disease, and Gregory P. Bisson, MD, MSCE an Assistant Professor in the division of Infectious Diseases, have identified immune biomarkers in these patients before they begin ART.
February 6, 2015
University of Pennsylvania and Imperial College London researchers learned in a new study that after ingesting a meal of blood, mosquitoes ramp up production of immune system proteins that help fight off the parasites that blood might contain. "This appears to be a new mechanism by which the mosquito is anticipating a parasite infection," said Michael Povelones, an assistant professor in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine, who coauthored the study. A greater understanding of how mosquitoes naturally fight off infection could offer a strategy for preventing humans from getting infected with those same pathogens.
January 29, 2015
Slow-healing wounds are a serious problem for diabetics. A study led by Dental Medicine's Dana Graves has identified a molecule that may be responsible.
Penn Study Reveals Possible Therapeutic Target for Common, but Mysterious Brain Blood Vessel Disorder
January 27, 2015
Cardiovascular scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have studied a pathway in heart development to discover an important set of molecular signals, triggered by cerebral cavernous malformation-linked gene defects that potentially could be targeted to treat the disorder. “We hope that these findings will lead to a better understanding of the origins of CCM, and thus to treatment possibilities,” says Mark L. Kahn, MD, a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and senior author of the new study, published in Developmental Cell.
January 26, 2015
For his work in cancer biology, Xianxin Hua of Medicine has been awarded a Harrington Scholar-Innovator Award and $100,000 for two years to support his research.
January 23, 2015
Beatrice Hahn of Medicine will be honored by the American College of Physicians for her research on the origins of the human AIDS viruses and malaria parasites.
January 23, 2015
Based on a review led by Dental Medicine professor Thomas Sollecito, the ADA issued a new guideline regarding the use of antibiotics before dental procedures.
Mutated ATRX Gene Linked to Brain and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors is Potential Biomarker for Rare Adrenal Tumors Too
January 21, 2015
A somatic mutation in the ATRX gene recently demonstrating potential as a molecular marker for aggressive brain tumors could also serve as a biomarker for rare neuroendocrine tumors, according to a new Penn Medicine study in Nature Communications, reports Endocrine Today. “We have identified, for the first time, somatic ATRX mutations in pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas,” said Katherine Nathanson, MD, an associate professor in the division of Translational Medicine and Chief Oncogenomics Physician for the Abramson Cancer Center. The mutation could not only serve as that biomarker for metastatic disease, but also a potential therapeutic drug target in the future
December 22, 2014
A Philadelphia Business Journal blog post covered a newly-opened phase I clinical trial using hTERT DNA immunotherapy. The drug will be tested in adults with breast, lung, or pancreatic cancer at high risk of relapse after surgery and other cancer treatments. The ultimate goal is to reduce the risk of relapse in these patients. "The next great wave of oncology advancements will be treatments which empower the patient's own immune system to seek and destroy cancer," said principal investigator, Robert Vonderheide, MD, PhD, the Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research in the Abramson Cancer Center.
December 17, 2014
A feature in The New Yorker on HIV/AIDS referenced a Penn Medicine study published in New England Journal of Medicine in March on HIV gene therapy and CCR5, a rare mutation that provides a natural resistance to the virus. In that study, Carl H. June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of translational research at the Abramson Cancer Center, and colleagues successfully genetically engineered the immune cells of 12 HIV positive patients to resist infection, and decreased the viral loads of some patients taken off antiretroviral drug therapy entirely.