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Honors & Other Things

Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Research Grants:
Dr. Lazar and Dr. Lee

Photo by Marguerite Miller

(From left to right) Dean Arthur Rubenstein, with the two Penn researchers who received the unrestricted grants to support their outstanding scientific work, Dr. Virginia Lee, and Dr. Mitchell Lazar, along with Dr. Simeon Taylor, and Dr. Frank Yocca from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute who made the presentations.

In a rare coincidence, two of the most coveted honors in biomedical research have been received by Penn researchers this year. It is believed to be the first time in the 26-year history of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants Program for two winners in one year to be from the same institution.  Dr. Mitchell A. Lazar, and Dr. Virginia M.-Y. Lee, have each been awarded $500,000 in no-strings attached grants from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Biomedical Research Program to support their work in the fields of metabolic and neuroscience research.

The unrestricted nature of the grants allows researchers to put the support where it is most needed and gives scientists the freedom to pursue uncharted paths. Both researchers plan to use their unrestricted grants to further the research capabilities of their laboratories.

"It is a wonderful honor for an institution to count a single recipient of a Bristol-Myers Squibb research grant among its faculty, let alone two such researchers honored in a single year," said Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, EVP of Penn's Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine. "Mitchell Lazar and Virginia Lee represent the spirit of medical science at Penn--they each excel at studying the basic molecular underpinnings of a disease, yet still manage to focus on translating their findings into medical practice."

Dr. Lazar, professor of medicine and genetics, Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolics, and Director of the Penn Diabetes Center, is an internationally known expert in nuclear hormone receptors and the regulation of gene transcription. His research grant will further support his groundbreaking research into hormone regulation of gene expression. Dr. Simeon Taylor, vice president, Hopewell Biology, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, in Princeton, presented a check to Dr. Lazar.

"Dr. Lazar's research on the endocrine and metabolic aspects of gene regulation is highly regarded by scientists throughout the world, with implications even in the field of oncology research," said Dr. Taylor. "Recently, he has provided new insights into insulin resistance in type II diabetes and the relationship between obesity and diabetes. We are proud to welcome Dr. Lazar to the distinguished roster of scientists participating in our unrestricted metabolic research grants program."

Dr. Lee, The John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research and Co-Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, is a world leader in the field of Alzheimer's disease and dementias. Dr. Frank D. Yocca, executive director, Neuroscience Clinical Design and Evaluation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Princeton, presented a check to Dr. Lee.

"Dr. Lee is clearly a world leader in the field of Alzheimer's disease and dementias," said Dr. Yocca. "Her discoveries in the biochemistry and pathophysiology of these diseases have contributed new understandings of how these diseases develop and progress. Dr. Lee adds an exciting new dimension to the work of scientists currently participating in our unrestricted neuroscience research grants program."

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants Program offers the world's premier research institutions the opportunity to pursue new clinical and laboratory findings, support promising young scientists, or acquire new laboratory technology-with no strings attached.

Initiated in 1977, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has awarded unrestricted research grants to support research in the fields of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, neuroscience and nutrition. Through the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants Program, the Foundation has committed over $100 million in support of 240 grants to 150 institutions in 22 countries worldwide.


Three Awards for Alzheimer's Research

Penn's NIH-funded Alzheimer's Disease Core Center (ADCC) in the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) and the Institute for Medicine and Engineering (IME) have joined together in funding three pilot research projects for July 1, 2003. These are one-year, non-renewable, $20,000 grants that support pilot research projects on the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis or management of dementia of the Alzheimer's type or related conditions.

The ADCC awarded two investigators: Dr. Leslie M. Shaw, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, for Validation of New Biomarkers of Oxidant Stress in Alzheimer's Disease, and Dr. Kelly L. Jordan-Sciutto, assistant professor of pathology, School of Dental Medicine, for Endogenous Antioxidant Response in Alzheimer's Disease. The IME will fund Dr. Gul Moonis, assistant professor of radiology, neuroradiology section, for her project entitled Tissue Characterization in Alzheimer's Disease via Standardization of Image Intensity Scale. These pilot projects are important in seeding multi-disciplinary research across departments and schools on campus.


Dr. Sands: Metanexus Institute Grant

Dr. Roberta Sands, professor of social work, has received a two-year research grant from the Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science for studies on Baalei Teshuvah's Spiritual Transformatinal Soul Work. Dr. Sands is one of 24 recipients of a $150,000 grant awarded for scientific studies on the phenomena of spiritual transformation through the Spiritual Transformation Scientific Research Program. This is the first multidisciplinary scientific investigation of this kind.  Dr. Sands' study aims to build a dynamic model of the stages of "soul work" of Jewish adults who have become Orthodox, the baalei teshuvah, in the aftermath of profound spiritual experience. A full model of this process had not been addressed in previous research.


Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award

Penn has been awarded the Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award for 2003. It was one of two institutions of higher education selected to receive the award which was established in 1994 and is presented annually by Howard and Connie Clery in memory of their daughter Jeanne Ann to schools and individuals who have done extraordinary things to make college and university students safer.

Penn was honored for improvements it has made to is Public Safety Department during the past few years. "We wanted to honor the University of Pennsylvania for its innovative technological programs as well as its campus and community patrols," Mr. Clery said. "This award also lets the rest of the academic world know that schools are fighting camps crime with programs that do work." "We are thrilled to accept the Jeanne Clery Award for 2003," said Maureen Rush, Vice President of Public Safety. "It is an honor to be recognized by an organization that cares deeply about the safety of students."


Two White House Fellows

Eileen Stephens, a recent graduate of the Wharton School, where she received an M.B.A. in May 2003. Ms. Stephens began her career in the medical device industry with Cordis Corporation, where she designed and supervised the manufacture of custom catheters. She worked in the Japan office of Guidant Corporation where received a patent for co-inventing a safer guidewire. She also co-founded the pan-university Social Impact Management Initiative, a partnership to explore the potential of business to address broader societal concerns. She received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Cathy Taylor, is a vice president, Investment and Business Development, with American Express. Created, implemented and currently manages American Express's strategic investment strategy, as well as founded and managed the division's Mentor Program. She founded LeadingEdge Partners and remains active as a teacher for this community organization that provides leadership training to students in New York City public schools. Ms. Taylor received a B.A. from Duke University and M.B.A. from the Wharton School. At Wharton, she served as the elected student body president and spearheaded the creation of Wharton's Volunteer Day.

  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 1, July 15, 2003