PMACS Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services

PMACS NewsletterSpring / Summer 2023

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Leadership Thoughts

As spring came to Philadelphia, many traditional events were ushered in such as reunion weekend and commencement. As summer sprang upon us and the warmer weather began setting in, this season that brought us to the threshold of getting halfway through the year gave pause toward reflecting on the many activities that have taken place since the year began.

This spring marked the first time that Penn used the NGSS platform to graduate its students. NGSS launched just over a year ago in March of 2022. The platform has continued to undergo evolution as it has become a core component of Penn’s technology landscape. Last year, PMACS also took steps to reduce the cost of certain research services such as the cost of HPC storage.

This spring, Workday Learning went live, which created a unified HR platform for managing talent, performance, and HR activity for university employees. While UPHS has continued to use KnowledgeLink, the dedication of the project team led to the development of a unified portal experience to help minimize the impact on those faculty, staff, and students who needed to take training in both systems.

Looking to the future, PSOM continues to develop and expand its world-class research facilities. The 3600 Civic Center Boulevard overbuild project is well underway, with cranes actively lifting steel into the sky. PMACS and Penn Medicine IS play a critical role in construction projects, ensuring core technologies such as high-speed networking are in place to support the transformative research these facilities enable.

Templafy Now Available to PSOM Community

Penn Medicine has rolled out an exciting new tool called Templafy that makes designing PowerPoint (PPT) presentations a breeze and puts all assets – logos, photos, icons, and more – right at your fingertips!

Our goal is to help you create presentations in an easy, intuitive way, and to bring quality and consistency to the Penn Medicine brand. For more information about what Templafy offers, please visit the Penn Medicine Templafy Resource Hub.

After a successful roll-out to our Health System colleagues — which allowed for additional feedback to create the most user-friendly experience — we are delighted to invite our Perelman School of Medicine community to Templafy.

Do I need to do anything?

Access Templafy

Open PowerPoint and locate the new Templafy add-in on the Home ribbon or follow the instructions below for more assistance.

  • Details about accessing Templafy: Windows | Mac.

If you need to log into PowerPoint, review the resources below:

  • Help logging into PowerPoint with a email address: Windows | Mac.
  • Help logging into PowerPoint without being signed into an account: Windows | Mac.

Learn More

Watch the following microlearning training videos:

What if I have questions?

  • Visit the Templafy Resource Hub for additional resources, including video tutorials, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), presentation tips, and more!
  • Troubleshoot Templafy on your computer: Windows | Mac.
  • Keep an eye out for "Lunch and Learns" hosted by the Penn Medicine Templafy Implementation Team for more information about how to use Templafy.
  • Contact a Local Support Provider if you do not have a Penn Medicine account.


Continued Migration of Data from Pumpkin/SPS to LabVantage LIMS

Article by: Ned Haubein, PhD, Sr. Application Manager, LIMS

Over the last decade, LabVantage LIMS has emerged as the enterprise biobanking solution for Penn Medicine, supporting 120+ research groups and 300 active users per month. As of June 1, LabVantage tracks 769 studies and 3.28 million samples. While the majority of new biobanking studies are now initiated within LabVantage, studies pre-dating its use continue to use legacy systems to track existing samples in freezers.

Three of the more common legacy systems are Pumpkin, SPS, and FreezerBD. Each of these tools was developed internally at Penn Medicine. While all data from FreezerDB and some data from Pumpkin and SPS have been successfully migrated to LabVantage, some data remains in the latter two systems as migrations continue.

Pumpkin and SPS continue to be supported by the Information Services LIMS team, with areas of support in a limited capacity - keeping the systems online, creating new users, and debugging common problems such as printing issues. The benefits of having a single sample tracking solution throughout the institution, combined with the many challenges of supporting an internal legacy system means that the legacy systems will ultimately be retired. While there is no specific target date yet, the LIMS team maintains several active migration projects at any given time and is steadily working towards that goal. The systems will be maintained in their current state while the migrations proceed.

For groups that have historically used the legacy systems, data migrations are often implemented as additional phases alongside LabVantage implementations. The implementation project supports new sample intake, and the corresponding data migration project handles the data extraction from the legacy system and subsequent loading into LabVantage. A data migration project typically involves steps such as understanding the study structure, extracting data from the legacy system, cleaning the legacy data to remove errors and fill gaps, and importing the data into LabVantage. Sometimes an inventory of physical samples is recommended to ensure quality data is imported. Fortunately, LabVantage can support pre-existing barcodes, so in most cases samples do not need to be re-labeled.

If your lab has interest in migrating off of these legacy systems, please contact to let us know that you would like to be one of the next groups to migrate.

Reminder: ISC Changes for FY24

As the new fiscal year begins, new central University charges for IS services will begin taking effect. These changes were announced to the University community in January and will affect PSOM users in several ways:

  • Storing more than 5 TB of data on PennBox will result in a monthly storage fee. These fees begin at $2,000 per year for up to 50 TB, with an additional $5,000 per year for every additional 50 TB of data stored on the platform.
  • Blue Jeans will be fully retired from the University of Pennsylvania as of June 30th. There is no change to UPHS’s use of Blue Jeans for telehealth at this time.
  • All devices connecting to PennNet must have a registered IP address. To receive a valid, approved IP address, please submit a request to the PMACS Helpdesk or contact Med Help. Unregistered IP addresses will result in a $560 annual fee, prorated monthly.
  • ISC is introducing an expedited fee of $560 for networking and telecom requests where work must be completed within a timeframe that is shorter than ISC’s published service levels. As you plan physical moves and staff onboardings, please remember these timeframes in order to avoid paying the expedited fee.
Service Request Type SLA Requirement
Network Design and Installation Any wiring move, add, or
change request (including
fiber circuits)
15 Business Days
PennNet Ethernet Ports


3 Business Days

Activations (5 or greater)

5 Business Days


3 Business Days

Reconfiguration (15 or greater)

5 Business Days

On Site Technician Support 5 Business Days
Traditional Telephony On Site Technician Support 5 Business Days
Moving and Installing Lines

15 Business Days
*Need to determine whether the
request can even be completed due to
the life of service infrastructure and
whether the vendor is able to deliver
the service.

PennFlex Phone Installing Lines 10 Business Days
Reconfigure/Move Line 10 Business Days
eFax 10 Business Days
Wireless at Penn Survey 5 Business Days
Install 15 Business Days
*Request must include survey (or
wireless team approval) and budget
  Specialized Event
SSID/Network Creation
10 Business Days

Ransomware — How to Stay Safe

Ransomware is increasing, so stay safe by watching for phishing emails and suspicious attachments, as well as avoiding unknown download sites and free public Wi-Fi.

Ransomware generally means your files have been encrypted and cannot be accessed until you pay a demanded “ransom." For many large organizations, the ransom payment alone is approaching one million dollars. That ransom figure doesn’t include the cost of lost data, losses in productivity, damage to trust/reputation, and general stress for the employees involved.

To increase the pressure on victims, lately there’s a new twist. In addition to locking up your data, ransomware criminals will steal copies of your files and threaten to make sensitive information public if you don’t pay up. If the data accessed was unsecured PHI, the stakes are even higher, with HIPAA violations and large fines for healthcare organizations.

Sometimes victims can recover with file backups or publicly available decryption keys. But the best way to deal with ransomware, by far, is to prevent infection in the first place.

Some important tips to help you stay safe:

  1. Keep an eye out for phishing emails and be suspicious of unknown senders. DON’T open any email file attachments you aren’t expecting.
  2. Be cautious where you download software or files — make sure the web address is legitimate. Do a search rather than clicking on links you are sent.
  3. Avoid free public Wi-Fi. If you must use it, employ a VPN.

Thank you for helping to keep Penn Medicine safe from ransomware.

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