News Briefs

Stephen Hahn and James Metz

Penn Medicine’s Stephen M. Hahn and James Metz stand next to one of the structures used for proton therapy.

Protons aimed at cancer  

By mid-winter the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, housed within Penn's Medicine's Department of Radiation Oncology, will be ready to begin treating patients. The Center, which is part of the Abramson Cancer Center, is the largest and most-advanced proton therapy facility in the world, with the capacity to treat about 3,000 patients a year.

 Proton therapy uses a beam of protons moving at very high speeds – about 100,000 miles per second, near the speed of light – to destroy the DNA of cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying.  Unlike conventional radiation, proton therapy can be used to treat tumors that are hard to reach or are close to vital organs by more accurately targeting the tumors while causing less damage to healthy tissue.

In addition to providing state-of-the-art cancer treatment, the Roberts Center also will advance medical science through research, serving as a leader in clinical trials that will provide new protocols to increase and enhance the effectiveness this groundbreaking form of cancer therapy.  


Baby it's cold outside

If you haven't already done so, now is the time to register for Penn's Snow Day Child Care Program, a service available to faculty and staff members with children ages 12-weeks to 12-years-old. The service provides child care on bad weather days when the Philadelphia public schools are closed but Penn is still open. Children who attend other school districts are also welcome.

Available weekdays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. through April 2, 2010, the child care program is provided by the Penn Children’s Center at the Left Bank Commons, Suite 100, 3160 Chestnut Street. Children must be pre-registered in order to participate. To register, simply complete the online application found at: and return it to the Penn Children’s Center. If you need assistance, contact the Penn Children’s Center at (215) 898-5268 or You must register to use the Snow Day Child Care Center.


Walking to wellness 

The Morris Arboretum is once again offering winter Wellness Walks, every Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., through March 27, 2010. Walkers meet at the arboretum's visitors' center and walk for two miles on paved paths while guides point out some of the arboretum's distinctive trees and other features. The walk lasts from 45 minutes to an hour. Participants should wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Located at 100 Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill, the 92-acred Morris Arboretum features a unique collection of mature trees in a Victorian landscape, a formal rose garden, Japanese gardens, swan pond, meadows and an elegant fernery. It is listed on the National Register of Historic places and is the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  For more information on the arboretum and on the winter wellness walks, call (215) 247-5777 ext. 0.


Grants for research on aging

Penn's Institute on Aging, along with the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders and the Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center will fund 10 one-year multidisciplinary pilot grants for the 2010-2011 academic year to support biomedical, epidemiological, behavioral or health services research, as well as basic science, clinical or psychosocial research.
The purpose of these one-year, non-renewable grants is to assist faculty in obtaining preliminary data to serve as the basis of a grant application to the NIH or other public or private agencies concerned with aging, musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair, or Alzheimer's disease-related neurodegenerative disorders

Two of the pilot grants will focus on Alzheimer’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. One will fund research into related to musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair with a focus on aging, and the remaining seven will focus on aging and aging related diseases.
To qualify for the grants, principal investigators must be members of Penn's full-time faculty at any of the University's 12 schools. Collaboration with other departments or schools is strongly encouraged.
Each pilot will be funded at a level of up to $50,000/year for personnel and supply costs, but not equipment or instruments. Detailed instructions regarding the application process can be found at The application deadline is Feb. 5, 2010.

 For more information, contact Kathryn Jedrziewski, IOA Deputy Director, at (215) 898-2445 or via e-mail at  Anticipated date of the award is July 1, 2010.


Originally published on December 3, 2009