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Penn Center for Personalized Diagnostics

Male doctor with elderly male patient

The concept of cancer as a genomic disease has been clear since 1960, when Peter Nowell, from the University of Pennsylvania, and his graduate student David Hungerford, identified an abnormal chromosome (the Philadelphia chromosome) associated with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Amazingly, the first targeted therapy for cancer, Imatinib, was later developed around the Philadelphia chromosome and its targeted fusion gene product BCR-ABL1 as well.

Targeted therapy can be categorized into small molecules and monoclonal antibodies. Small molecules are chemicals that block the growth of cancer cells, often by mimicking a substrate, which blocks the active site in the molecule. Some examples of small molecules in cancer include imatinib mesylate (Imatinib), commonly used for CML, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, as well as some other tumors and erlotinib and gefitinib, which are targeted against EGFR mutations in lung and pancreatic adenocarcinomas.

There are also monoclonal antibodies that target specific genetic changes in tumor cells. An example of a monoclonal antibody that has altered disease outcome is trastuzumab, which targets ERBB2 (also known as her2/neu) that is expressed in some breast cancers and some lung adenocarcinomas. The promise of trastuzumab as a targeted therapy that can both treat advanced cancer and prevent its development or reoccurrence traces its origins to the pioneering contributions of Dr. Mark Greene, now a University of Pennsylvania faculty member in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the University of Pennsylvania builds on this legacy of personalized medicine.

Current Leadership

Headshot of Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson

Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson, MD
Director, Center for Personalized Diagnostics

Kojo S. J. Elenitoba-Johnson, MD, is the inaugural Peter C. Nowell, MD Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Founding Director of Penn Medicine's Center for Personalized Diagnostics, as well as Chief of the Division of Molecular and Genomic Pathology. He was Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan before joining Penn Medicine faculty in 2015.

Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson is an international leader in the field of hematopathology and molecular pathology, as well as mass spectrometry-driven proteomics. Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson earned his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Lagos, in Nigeria. He underwent residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Brown University School of Medicine, and served as chief resident. He completed a fellowship in Hematopathology at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. He is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Combined Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, as well as sub-specialty certification in Hematology and Molecular Genetic Pathology.

Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson's research is focused on the pathogenesis of human malignant lymphomas, biomarker discovery by genomic and proteomic profiling, and cancer. Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson's has been recognized for his work with numerous awards, including the American Society of Investigative Pathology Scholarship in 1993; the Outstanding Graduating Resident Award from Brown University in 1995; the Society for Hematopathology Pathologist in Training Award in 1998; the Outstanding Teaching Award in Anatomic Pathology from the University of Utah (1999 and 2003); and the Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology in 2006. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2011), and is the recipient of the Outstanding Investigator Award given by the American Society for Investigative Pathology (2012).

Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson is a member for the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Hematopathology. He is a member of numerous professional societies, including the American Society of Hematology, American Society for Investigative Pathology, United States and Canadian Academy of Pathologists, and the Association of Molecular Pathologists (AMP). He served as the Chair of the Hematopathology Division of AMP from 2008-2009. He has authored or co-authored more than 130 peer-reviewed research publications and has contributed more than 40 chapters to professional textbooks in Pathology.

Download Dr. Elenitoba-Johnson's CV (PDF)

Headshot of Jennifer Morrissette

Jennifer Morrissette, PhD
Clinical Director, Center for Personalized Diagnostics

Dr. Morrissette is a dual board certified clinical molecular geneticist and clinical cytogeneticist through the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG) and the Scientific Director of the Clinical Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

She received her PhD in Molecular Genetics from the State University of New York at Buffalo and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a Fellowship in Clinical Cytogenetics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Download Dr. Jennifer Morrissette's CV (PDF)

Headshot of Robert Faryabi

Robert Babak Faryabi, PhD
CPD Faculty Lead, Bioinformatics

Dr. Robert Babak Faryabi is an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and a member of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. After a postdoctoral training with Dr. Andre Nussenzweig at the NIH Laboratory of Genome Integrity, Dr. Faryabi joined the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in June of 2015. The focus of his lab is to explore the genome-wide signatures of replicative stress and the contributions of replication stress-induced genomic lesions to hematological malignancies. To achieve this goal, the lab employs a combined experimental-computational approach, and develop computational methods based on combinations of big data analytics, mathematical modeling and machine learning algorithms to integrate and interrogate high-dimensional experimental data sets.

Download Dr. Robert Babak Faryabi's CV (PDF)

Headshot of Jason Rosenbaum

Jason N. Rosenbaum, MD
CPD Faculty Lead, Cancer Genomics

Dr. Jason Rosenbaum is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He completed his fellowship in Molecular Genetic Pathology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and his residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his medical degree from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Rosenbaum maintains an active research program, with projects investigating novel immunohistochemical and molecular markers for neuroendocrine carcinoma. He also works on projects involving next-generation sequencing (NGS), including a whole-exome sequencing project examining angiosarcoma.

Download Dr. Jason N. Rosenbaum's CV (PDF)

Headshot of Dr. Jacquelyn Roth

Jacquelyn J. Roth, PhD
Precision and Computational Diagnostics Faculty

Dr. Roth is an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is dual board certified in Clinical Cytogenetics and Clinical Molecular Genetics by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG). Dr. Roth received her PhD in Genetics from Thomas Jefferson University. She then completed her two ABMGG fellowships at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. In 2014, she joined the Molecular Pathology Laboratory in the Division of Precision and Computational Diagnostics at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as the Molecular Development Assistant Director for three years before transitioning into her current role. Dr. Roth's interests include harmonizing the use of cytogenetic and molecular techniques to improve patient diagnostics and laboratory quality control.

Salvatore Priore headshot

Salvatore Priore, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Salvatore Priore is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Anatomic Pathology and fellowship in Molecular Genetic Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Rochester as a member of the Medical Scientist Training Program. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Yi Xing in the Center for Computational and Genomic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Priore maintains a significant interest in investigating and developing RNA-based molecular diagnostic testing. In addition, he is actively involved in teaching and developing novel educational content in the areas of molecular pathology and medical humanities.

Dr. Priore is a diplomate of the American Board of Pathology.

CPD Staff Members

  • Joe Milano, Administrative Director
  • David Lieberman, Technical Manager
  • Robyn Sussman, PhD, Molecular Development Assistant Director
  • Safoora Deihimi, Genomic Variant Analyst
  • Chris Orr, PhD, Genomic Variant Analyst
  • Ashkan Bigdeli, Bioinformatics Specialist
  • Amanda Oran, PhD, Genomic Development Specialist
  • Patrick Candrea, Technical Supervisor
  • Natalie Opsitnick, Clinical Genomics Technologist
  • Amanda Liebert, Clinical Genomics Technologist
  • Donna Didario, Clinical Genomics Technologist
  • Akshay Chitturi, Bioinformatics Specialist
  • Chris Herzog, PhD, Genomic Variant Analyst
  • Samantha DiPompeo, Administrative Assistant
  • Chase Rushton, Bioinformatics Specialist
  • Monika Carey, Clinical Genomics Technologist
  • Alison DeBlass, Clinical Genomics Technologist
  • Stefanie Shawver, Laboratory Assistant
  • Corey Rogers, PhD, Genomic Development Specialist
  • Sanese White-Brown, Genomic Variant Analyst
  • Jason Limbo, Clinical Genomics Technologist

Contact Us

For the Center of Personalized Diagnostics and test inquiries, call 215-615-3966 or contact:

  • Jennifer Morrissette, PhD
    Clinical Director
    Center for Personalized Diagnostics
    Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
    3020 Market Street, Suite 221C
    Philadelphia, PA 19104
    Telephone: 215-615-2387
    Email: Jennifer.Morrissette@pennmedicine.upenn.edu
  • David B. Lieberman, MS, CGC
    Technical Manager
    Center for Personalized Diagnostics
    Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
    3020 Market Street, Suite 220
    Philadelphia, PA 19104
    Telephone: 215-349-8416
    Email: David.Lieberman@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

CPD Resources and Selected Publications

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