PMACS Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services

PMACS NewsletterWinter 2022-23

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Leadership Thoughts

We would like to start by thanking Christine Vanzandbergen for providing her insight and leadership over the previous 18 months. We wish her luck as she moves on to new professional adventures! Jeff Landgraf maintains responsibility for Research IT services, and Chris Dymek continues to serve as the entity information officer for the Perelman School of Medicine, with focus on IT delivery to PSOM more generally.

Research IT

The IT teams have continued to maintain great synergy with our partners in research – the BioBank, Office of Clinical Research, and PSOM. Great work has taken place over the past few months, including new system integration, upgrade efforts, and the go live of new studies. These efforts have enabled us to maintain great momentum in helping support advances in research.

Some examples of the work that has been taking place is the integration of our LIMS system and iLab for billing. We have collaborated with the Human Immunology Core (HIC) and Immune Health for this initiative that now allows the set up for charges within the LIMS and seamlessly updates iLab for billing.

We have also been diligently working on upgrades for both PennChart Research and our PennCTMS system, Velos, in the early spring. The teams have been working closely with key personnel in OCR and the software vendors to ensure smooth updates that will introduce new and exciting functionality for research.

Finally, we have also been able to help support the roll out of new study builds in our CDMS/EDC system, Veeva. These studies were completed in partnership with the Clinical Research Computing Unit, Abramson Cancer Center and the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, specific to grant funded research initiatives.


Collaboration between the Perelman School of Medicine, Penn Medicine, and the University continue to deepen. Another recent example to note is the effort of multiple teams to support the transition in the University from Knowledge Link to Workday Learning Management. This project required close collaboration to develop a shared portal for our PSOM faculty and staff who work in both the University and the health system. The new LMS system launched on March 6, 2023!

Closer to home, PMACS (DART) will begin deploying our first Windows 11 computers to users this winter. This project will deliver the latest Windows operating system to our PC computers, beginning with new computers purchased through the PSOM PC Purchase Program.

PMACS (DART) continues to lead the way on supporting initiatives large and small to advance the missions of research and education.

University Launched Workday Learning on March 6

 The University launched Workday Learning on March 6, 2023. Workday Learning connects University faculty, postdocs, staff, students, and other workers with their required training and other learning opportunities directly from Workday, the University’s human capital management platform. To facilitate a smooth transition, the Knowledge Link learning history and assignments for the past 10 years are migrating to individuals’ Workday records.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) continues to use Knowledge Link. Faculty, postdocs, students, staff, and others who work in both University and UPHS environments (dual users) can use a new, one-stop learning portal to access both UPHS courses in Knowledge Link and University courses in Workday Learning. More information is available on the UPHS website.

The Workday Learning Guide provides access to Workday tip sheets, video tutorials, and other resources to support learners, managers, and administrators. For specific questions on individual learning plans, learners have access to a support link directly in Workday Learning. For all other inquiries, learners can submit an electronic ticket to the Penn Employee Solution Center indicating “Learning Support” as the ticket category.

Workday Learning Launches March 6, 2023

PMACS Application Development Team and PSOM Finance Launch PennBot

Last quarter, the PMACS Application Development team launched the PennBot web application for PSOM Finance. This resolved an audit finding of manual BUP (Botswana-UPenn) financial journal entries into the BEN (Business Enterprise Network) Financial application.

The University of Pennsylvania has worked in Botswana since 2001. The BUP Partnership works with the Government of Botswana Ministry of Health and the University of Botswana to build healthcare and research capacity in Botswana. To learn more about this partnership, please visit:

The PennBot application automates the monthly billing process by:

  • Standardizing the format of all financial transactions
  • Imports approx. 50 employee salary charges and over 200 expenses each month
  • Calculates employee benefits rate for all employees supporting Botswana projects
  • Provides the accountant a review of all financial entries prior to billing process
  • Integrated with the Central Account Management Services (CAMS) application which sends a feeder file to BEN Financials for billing

This web application has been in-use for the past 4 months with minimal changes since go live. The development team looks forward to continuing our partnership with PSOM Finance department.

LIMS Activates Billing Support and iLab Integration

Penn Medicine has used LabVantage as its enterprise Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) since 2014, tracking 3.1M samples and 700+ research studies and supports 300 users across the institution. While a majority of the implementations focus on tracking frozen research samples, the LIMS team works with a number of groups to implement features of the system meant to track research kits, equipment, critical inventory items, and the movement of samples among different teams.

Recently, the LIMS team has been working with two groups to extend the system to a new area of laboratory operations that will benefit from the automation provided by an electronic platform. The Human Immunology Core (HIC) and the Immune Health Project are collecting billing information in LabVantage and the Immune Health Project is about to start as well. This is a natural extension of the way in which both groups are using LabVantage and represents for the LIMS team another area where we can help to streamline and automate laboratory operations for our clients.

Both groups were already managing their sample processing in LabVantage with Immune Health beginning with LabVantage from their inception and managing all their studies in the system and HIC working to migrate long-standing workflows to the system. The LIMS team is taking advantage of the configurable nature of the system to build out a new section of the database to track what processing had been done, on which study, for which participant, and with what special circumstances (late sample arrival, rush processing, etc.). In addition, we recently added the ability to track and bill for specific assays added to a sample.

Tracking and logging this information provides both time-savings and increased accuracy to the laboratory teams; as they do not need to catalogue this information separately. But, how do the laboratories use this collection of billable records? The LIMS team works with the iLab team at Penn Medicine to move beyond simple reporting on what activities need billing to an integration between the systems that enables the activity. With this process, sample processing that the laboratory team tracks in LabVantage automatically converts to billable items; which can be uploaded to iLab for efficient and accurate billing to the client. The LIMS team thanks both the HIC and Immune Health Project teams for their partnership in developing these capabilities.

PSOM Preparing to Deploy Windows 11

Beginning in March, PMACS (DART) is preparing to deploy Windows 11 on all new computers that are purchased. After evaluating Windows 11 in 2022, PMACS (DART) is now ready to begin supporting Microsoft’s operating system in the PSOM environment. Departments will be able to order Windows 11 computers through the PC Purchasing Program or they can continue to work with their local support provider to create a custom configured computer with Windows 11.

The next phase of the migration effort will involve upgrading recently purchased computers from Windows 10 to Windows 11. More details will be shared on timing later this year. Please be aware that not all Windows 10 computers can run Windows 11, so departments should begin budgeting to replace older computers.

Windows 11 was first introduced in October 2021. Microsoft has announced that general support for Windows 10 will continue until October 2025.

Reminder: PennKey Self-Service Password Reset is Now Available

In November 2022, the University launched the new PennKey Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR) application. SSPR is a modern, secure, easy-to-use app for resetting your own PennKey password if forgotten – using only your pre-registered personal (non-Penn) email address and cell phone number.

Using SSPR for PennKey Password Resets

  • Before using the app, you must have previously enrolled in SSPR and registered your preferred personal contact information.

    To Enroll in SSPR:
  • Once enrolled, you can use SSPR to send a code to your registered personal email to quickly reset a forgotten password at any time. After completing the reset, a notification message will,be sent to both your registered personal email and cell phone (both are required to use SSPR).

    To Reset PennKey Password:

    Note: Those who choose not to enroll in SSPR will continue to contact their LSPs or Service Desks if they need to reset forgotten PennKey passwords.


Two-Step Authentication Impersonation

A multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution, such as Duo, is a cybersecurity tool that provides strong protection for your account. However, it relies on you only approving requests triggered immediately after your own login attempts.

If a bad actor steals your password and requests a Duo approval, and then you “approve” their push — you just gave them access to your account!

Please stay alert for fraudulent pushes.
If you didn’t request it, hit Deny.

In order to train our workforce, Cybersecurity occasionally tests employees' vigilance by triggering unexpected Duo pushes to their mobile device. If you did not request the Duo Push, please select "Deny" and answer “Yes” to the question “Was this a suspicious login?" Cybersecurity will be collecting baseline information to use in future awareness and training plans.

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