Awards &Accolades

Joseph Bavaria

Joseph E. Bavaria, MD

In recognition of extraordinary efforts and steadfast service, Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, director of the Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program, has been presented with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ (STS) 2022 Distinguished Service Award at the society’s 58th Annual Meeting. Bavaria-the society’s former president and an STS member since 1996-is currently president of the Thoracic Surgery Foundation and has served on numerous society leadership bodies. With interests and expertise in aortic disease, aortic dissections, as well as aortic valve repair and valve-sparing procedures, Bavaria has authored or co-authored more than 540 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters. In addition, he has participated in nearly 800 presentations on these topics. The Distinguished Service Award, established in 1969, recognizes individuals who have made significant and far-reaching contributions to STS and the specialty.

Gregory Corder, PhD, an assistant professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, has been named a 2021 Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain Scholar, which celebrates pioneering early-career scientists whose research holds exceptional promise for revealing new pathways to understand and treat chronic pain. Corder leads research which aims to decipher the neural basis of how the brain generates the perception of pain, and how pathological dysfunction within these brain networks leads to the transition to chronic pain and drug abuse.

Regina S. Cunningham, PhD, RN, chief executive officer of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, was awarded the 2022 Norma M. Lang Award for Scholarly Practice and Policy from Penn Nursing. Cunningham is recognized for her executive leadership as well as her academic work on fully using and implementing nursing resources across the care continuum. As part of the award, Cunningham will be giving a lecture at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, in the Ann L. Roy Auditorium at Penn.

The Perelman School of Medicine has received grant funding through the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists. The fund is led by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and supported by the American Heart Association, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the John Templeton Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the Walder Foundation. The funding will be divided among five Penn scientists and support research projects.

  • Marie Guerraty, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Cell and Molecular Biology. Project title: The Role of FOG2 in Coronary Microvascular Disease
  • Gina Hong, MD, an assistant professor of Pulmonary Medicine. Project title: The Impact of Aspergillus Species in Cystic Fibrosis
  • Yehoda M. Martei, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology. Project title: Fidelity and Adaptation of Breast Cancer Resource-Stratified Treatment Guidelines in Botswana
  • Zelma C. Chiesa Fuxench, MD, an assistant professor of Dermatology. Project title: Genetics of Atopic Dermatitis in Latinx
  • Brendan J. Kelly, MD, an assistant professor of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology in Biostatistics and Epidemiology. Project title: Therapeutic Induction of Endogenous Prophages to Address Antibiotic-Resistant Respiratory Infections

A group of five researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine have been selected as new members of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). The organization supports physician-scientists in their scientific, educational, and clinical endeavors, and the organization’s members. The new Penn members include Raina Merchant, MD, founding director of Penn Medicine’s Nudge Unit and a professor of Emergency Medicine; Scott A. Lorch, MD, a professor in Neonatology; Mathew A. Kayser, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Psychiatry; Rajan Jain, MD, an assistant professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology; and Julio Chirinos, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Medicine. The induction of this group adds to the sizable Penn presence in ASCI, which includes more than 100 Perelman School of Medicine faculty members.

Scott Peslak

Scott Alan Peslak, MD, PhD

Scott Alan Peslak, MD, PhD,a faculty Instructor in Hematology-Oncology, who cares for patients in the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program and Comprehensive Adult Thalassemia program, is one of 36 recipients of the 2022 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Scholar Award and one of 12 to receive the Basic/Translational ASH Fellow Award, which provides funding of $100,000 to support Peslak’s research. The ASH Scholar Awards recognize the importance of furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. This award will support Peslak’s work in the study of red cell disorders, novel regulators of fetal hemoglobin, and new genetic and pharmacologic therapies for the treatment of sickle cell disease.

Julia E. Szymczak, PhD, an assistant professor of Epidemiology, has been nominated by the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to serve as a voting member on the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB). PACCARB provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary regarding programs and policies intended to support and evaluate the implementation of U.S. activities related to combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a medical sociologist, Szymczak will be the Council’s first social scientist to serve in this capacity. She was sworn in March 2 and will serve a four-year term.

Hisham Valiuddin and Michele Volpe

Hisham Valiuddin, DO, and Michele Volpe, M.Ed., MBA

Hisham Valiuddin, DO, and Michele Volpe, M.Ed., MBA, chief executive officer of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, were honored by the American College of Healthcare Executives’ HealthCare Leadership Network of Delaware Valley. Valiuddin, who serves as assistant medical director and clinical instructor of Emergency Medicine, received the Early Career Healthcare Executive Award. Volpe received the Senior-Level Healthcare Executive Award.

Ragini Verma

Ragini Verma, PhD

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering has elected Ragini Verma, PhD, a professor of Radiology, to its College of Fellows, which is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. Verma-who leads the DiCIPHR (Diffusion and Connectomics in Precision Healthcare Research) lab at Penn-is being recognized for her world-class research program in translational connectomics, the study of brain connectivity using Diffusion MRI (dMRI). Her research aims to solve clinically motivated problems to improve patients’ quality of life. She has made important contributions in studying the brain connectome in traumatic brain injury, brain gliomas, and schizophrenia.

Liling Wan

Liling Wan, PhD

Liling Wan, PhD, an assistant professor of Cancer Biology, is one of 36 recipients of the 2022 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Scholar Award, and is one of 11 to receive the prestigious Junior Faculty Award, which includes a prize of $150,000. Wan’s lab is affiliated with the department of Cancer Biology, the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, the Penn Epigenetics Institute, and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. The ASH Scholar Awards support fellows and junior faculty dedicated to careers in hematology research as they transition from training programs to careers as independent investigators.

Peter Yang,PhD, an associate professor of Biostatistics, and Harold I. Feldman, MD, the George S. Pepper Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, are co-senior authors of a paper from CRIC (the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort) that has been honored by the Clinical Research Forum as one of its Top 10 studies published in 2021. “Race, Genetic Ancestry, and Estimating Kidney Function in Chronic Kidney Disease,”published in NEJM, showed that for GFR estimation, the use of serum cystatin C – rather than serum creatinine – produced estimates of similar validity while eliminating the negative consequences of race-based approaches to measuring kidney disease.

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