Rachleff Professor and Chair of CIS: Dr. Pereira
Dr. Fernando C. N. Pereira, has been named Andrew and Debra Rachleff
Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer and Information Science
effective July 1, 2001.
Dr. Pereira comes to Penn from the technology sector and is currently
a research scientist at the Pittsburgh office of WhizBang! Labs--a Web information
mining company that has built the Internet's largest commercial on-line
recruiting site, FlipDog.com. Dr. Pereira also spent 11 years as a researcher
at Bell Laboratories and AT&T Labs, including six years as head of AT&T's
machine learning and information retrieval research department.
Dr. Pereira holds degrees from the University of Lisbon and the University
of Edinburgh, which awarded him a Ph.D. in 1982. An internationally recognized
researcher in computational linguistics and artificial intelligence with
particular focus on machine learning techniques in language and speech recognition,
he has taught at Stanford University, the University of California at Santa
Cruz, and Lisbon. A fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence,
Dr. Pereira has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Logic
Programming, Studies in Logic, Language, and Information, the Journal of
Artificial Intelligence Research and the MIT Press series on logic programming.
"Fernando Pereira is a deep scholar who also has an innate understanding
of the practical applications of research," said SEAS Dean Eduardo
D. Glandt. "This powerful combination of talents has allowed him to
work successfully across the interface between the academic and the corporate
worlds. His knowledge of the two cultures will be a precious asset to our
"The great successes of computing and communications technologies
in the last few years are not a sign that all the main fundamental questions
of computer science have been solved," Dr. Pereira said. "On the
contrary, those successes are creating extraordinary new challenges in science,
engineering, education and policy. Universities are in the best position
to address those new questions. Their great permeability to society through
the constant flow of students, postdoctoral researchers, research grants
and faculty involvement in outside activities allows them to learn firsthand
of the ideas, concerns and needs of all sectors of society."
As head of the computer and information science department at Penn, Dr.
Pereira's priorities will include keeping undergraduate education abreast
of rapid changes in technology and society; maintaining a strong, bold research
program; and further developing links with other academic departments in
the sciences and humanities.
The endowed chair Dr. Pereira will assume is named for Andrew and Debra
Rachleff of Portola Valley, California. Andrew Rachleff, a 1980 graduate
of the Wharton School and member of the Board of Overseers of SEAS, is co-founder
and general partner of Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital
firm dedicated to helping talented entrepreneurs build technology companies.
He also serves on the boards of CacheFlow, Charitable Way, Equinix, CoreExpress,
Gemini Networks, Loudcloud, Mahi Networks, NorthPoint Communications and
Agreement in Gene Therapy Lawsuit
The parties to a lawsuit brought by the family of Jesse Gelsinger have
reached an agreement to settle the suit. The University of Pennsylvania,
the Children's National Medical Center of Washington, the Children's Hospital
of Philadelphia, Genovo, and Drs. James M. Wilson, Mark L. Batshaw and Steven
E. Raper are parties to the settlement. By mutual agreement, the amount
of the settlement will be held confidential between the parties. Also by
mutual agreement, Drs. Arthur L. Caplan and William N. Kelley will be dismissed
from the suit prior to settlement.
University of Pennsylvania Statement
The University of Pennsylvania extends its deepest sympathy to the Gelsinger
family. The University appreciates the seriousness and openness with which
the family and its representatives entered into the discussions that led
to the settlement. Penn's hope is that the agreement among the parties will
enable the Gelsingers to bring a small measure of closure to their loss.
It will also enable Penn to concentrate on moving forward with its aggressive
efforts to improve its oversight and monitoring of human subject research,
an effort to which the University has already devoted substantial resources
of time, energy, and money. Our goal is to establish--and to continually
improve upon--a national model for clinical research and in this way honor
Jesse Gelsinger's memory.
Statement of the Gelsinger Family
The purpose of this lawsuit was always to bring to the public certain
critical issues concerning human participation in clinical trials in general,
and gene therapy trials in particular. While the Gelsingers fervently hope
gene therapy will one day be the means to cure many of the horrible diseases
afflicting so many, they urge that the road toward this or any medical breakthrough
is free of conflicts of interest, bioethical missteps and inadequate government
oversight. The Gelsingers appreciate that Penn, whatever its faults in the
past, is taking seriously the need for research universities to improve
the conditions under which clinical research is conducted. Penn has said
it is staking out a leadership position on these issues, and that meant
a great deal in resolving this case.