December 8, 1998
Volume 45
Number 14

New Provost: Dr. Robert Barchi of Neuroscience

Dr. Robert L. Barchi, the 52-year-old David Mahoney Professor of Neurological Sciences who had just left the chairmanship of Neuroscience to head up Neurology, has been chosen as Provost of the University, President Judith Rodin announced last Thursday.

Dr. Barchi's appointment will go to the Trustees for approval December 11 and he will take up his duties February 1. Deputy Provost Michael Wachter, Interim Provost since Dr. Stanley Chodorow stepped down at year's end 1997, will return to the Law School where he is the Willam B. Johnson Professor and Director of the Institute for Law and Economics. (For more on Dr. Wachter, click here)

Dr. Barchi is a PennMed alumnus whose 25 years on the faculty have been marked with a Lindback Award for his teaching and a Javits Award (among others) for research. He has also held administrative appointments (as director of his institute, and vice dean of his school), chaired the Medical Faculty Senate, and most recently taken the chair of the President's Task Force on Cognitive Neuroscience. He was the founding director of PennMed's David Mahoney Institute, which he led from 1983-1996, and founding chair of the Neuroscience Department.

"Bob Barchi is an extraordinary scientist and scholar who has become one of Penn's true luminaries in his quarter-century at the University," said Dr. Rodin. "He is a deeply respected faculty leader who has been at the forefront of the design and implementation of important multidisciplinary advances in teaching and research.

"I am truly delighted that someone who has so distinguished himself as an internationally-renowned scholar is eager to take on the challenge of Penn's academic leadership," she said. "I am also very, very pleased and grateful that our search committee considered so carefully the extraordinary academic leadership we have here at Penn in its international search to find just the right person to be the University's new Provost."

A 1968 alumnus of Georgetown University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Dr. Barchi took his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry here in 1972 and an M.D. degree from PennMed a year later. He was a resident in neurology at HUP in 1973-75, joining the faculty in 1974 as assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics. He became associate professor of neurology and of biochemistry and biophysics in 1978, and professor of neurology and of biochemistry and biophysics in 1981; and he took the endowed David Mahoney Professorship of Neurological Sciences in 1985. Since 1995 he has also been president of Penn NeuroCare, a regional neurological specialty network.

Elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, he served as section chair for neuroscience and on the Institute's membership committee in 1995-98. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the College of Physicians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a member of Association of American Physicians; and a diplomate of the American Academy of Neurology and Psychiatry, with certification in neurology, and of the National Board of Medical Examiners.

The work in Dr. Barchi's laboratory has focused on the voltage dependent sodium channels that generate action potentials in nerve and muscle cells and current research explores the relationship between molecular structure and function in the skeletal muscle sodium channel.

He is the author of some 150 publications, including (with R.P. Lisak) "Myasthenia Gravis" (1982) and (with R. Rosenberg, S. Prusiner, S. DiMauro and L. Kunkel) "The Molecular and Genetic Basis of Neurologic Disease" (1993) and its second edition (1996). He is also on the editorial boards of numerous professional journals, including Muscle and Nerve, Ion Channels, Current Concepts in Neurology and Neurosurgery, The Neuroscientist, Neurobiology of Disease and inSight.

In addition to winning the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Barchi has also won the Senior Investigator Achievement Award of the American Heart Association.

A member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Research, he also serves on the medical or scientific advisory boards of numerous companies, including Cephalon, Inc., and TransMolecular, Inc. Dr. Barchi has served on numerous committees of the American Neurological Association, including its board of councillors (1992-94), and on the National Medical Advisory Committee of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of America.

Dr. Barchi is married to Joan E. Mollman, M.D., who is an associate professor of neurology at the School of Medicine. They have two children.

Also in this issue: A Roster of Provosts and the Report of the Search Committee led by Dr. Thomas P. Gerrity.

A New Name for Market West: the Avenue of Technology

Market Street from 30th Street west has been designated the Avenue of Technology to "signify the strategic importance of this area in regional efforts to develop new technologies through global partnerships such as those formed as part of the Commonwealth's recent trade mission to Israel and Ireland," announced sponsors Drexel, ISI, University City District, UCSC and Penn.

Mayor Ed Rendell made the official proclamation yesterday at a celebration at the Klein Gallery in the Science Center.

The western stretch of Market Street already has more than 200 high-tech organizations with 7,000 employees. "The cooperation and support of these organizations generate outstanding benefits for the community and the region while achieving national and international recognition,: said and, according to Jill Felix, president of the University City Science Center. The Science Center, founded in 1963 by a consortium including Penn, has been identified as one of three international ports of technology for the state.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 14, December 8, 1998