News Briefs

move out

Move out

As Penn students move out of dorms and apartments for the summer, some leave behind useable clothes, furniture, kitchen supplies and non-perishable food items. PennMOVES, a University-sponsored project started in 2008, helps find homes for these items in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly way. This year, PennMOVES is partnering with United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania to hold a community sale on June 6 and 7 that is open to faculty, staff and students of the University, as well as the surrounding community. Proceeds will help organizations identified by the United Way.

The organization does need volunteers to donate two-hour blocks of time now through June 7 to staff collection sites, load donations on trucks and transport them to the Ice Rink—the central collection point. Volunteers are also needed to sort and organize items and help with the June sale.

To volunteer, register at For more information, email

We have a winner

NIR Diagnostics, cofounded by three Wharton MBA students and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Medicine, recently won the 2009 Wharton Business Plan Competition.

The team, comprised of Wharton’s Pitamber Devgon, Xiaoming Fang and Bosun Hau and the School of Medicine’s Armen Karamanian, created a device, InfraVue, that identifies complex wound healing problems faster and more precisely than other products currently on the market.

Karamanian, set to graduate with a Ph.D. in pharmacology, says that in the United States alone, one amputation occurs every three minutes because of complex wounds that typically take two to six months to heal. Physicians use rulers to measure the size of complex wounds—a low-tech system that is subject to human error. InfraVue, by contrast, employs lasers that penetrate the wound, without causing any damage, to gather information from inside the injury.

“So if you think of using the analogy of the iceberg—before, physicians were measuring the tip with the ruler,” Karamanian says. “Now [with InfraVue] you can get a sense of how big the iceberg is, what are the healing properties of the different layers of the iceberg.”

NIR Diagnostics was awarded a $20,000 prize for placing first in the competition and also won the $3,000 People’s Choice award. Karamanian said the group is putting all its winnings into the company and is working on securing the intellectual property.

“We have a working prototype today,” he said. “We have 20 patients in a human pilot clinical trial with very compelling data and we anticipate to be in the market by 2011, 2012.”

Justice is served

Laurie Robinson, director of the Master of Science Program in Penn’s Department of Criminology, and Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General, has been nominated by President Barack Obama for a permanent position in the Department of Justice.

On May 6, Obama announced he will nominate Robinson for the position of Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Justice Programs. Robinson previously served in this position from 1993 to 2000. During her tenure in the Clinton Administration, she oversaw the largest increase in federal spending on criminal justice research in the nation’s history.

Since 2001, Robinson has been a Distinguished Senior Scholar in Penn’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology and Executive Director of its Forum on Crime and Justice. In 2004, Robinson launched the Criminology master’s program, making Penn the only school in the Ivy League to offer such a degree.

Penn Vet at 125

Penn Vet’s marks the school’s 125th anniversary with its Anniversary Research Symposium, “Animal Diseases in Translational Research,” held June 17 at Biomedical Research Building 2. The event lasts from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and brings together luminaries in the veterinary field for a day’s worth of talks and presentations.

John Wolfe, director of the Walter Flato Goodman Center for Comparative Medical Genetics at Penn Vet, delivers the welcome and opening remarks, followed by Steven U. Walkley, a professor in the Rose F. Kennedy Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Other guest speakers include Francis J. Golder, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Studies at Penn Vet; Andrew A. Lackner, director of the Tulane National Primate Research Center; and Rainer Storb, a professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Posters from Penn Vet faculty laboratories and research groups will be presented at the symposium.

For more information, call 215-898-9793 or 215-590-7028, or visit

Originally published on May 21, 2009