New Academic Chair Created Through a Bequest from the Family of Walter Annenberg

(Philadelphia, PA) -- Caryn E. Lerman, PhD, Associate Director Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Services at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, has been appointed to the first endowed chair created from a $100 million bequest from the family of the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg to the University of Pennsylvania School for Communications and Public Policy Center.

"Dr. Lerman is the lead scholar on much of the important work done in collaboration with Annenberg School faculty to prevent teen smoking. She is among the shining examples of cross-school collaboration at Penn," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communications.

Lerman, Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Services at the Abramson Center, is Professor of Psychiatry at Penn's School of Medicine with a secondary appointment as Professor of Communications at the Annenberg School.

As a specialist in tobacco control research, Lerman studies the genetic influences on tobacco use and their implications for developing successful smoking prevention and treatment programs, and on methods to influence public policy on tobacco issues. Dr. Lerman oversees a team of scientists involved in basic, clinical and epidemiological studies. She and her colleagues have demonstrated a link between smoking and genetic variants in the brain's dopamine and serotonin pathways.

In keeping with the tradition of the Annenberg School, Lerman has been afforded the opportunity to name her academic chair after an individual whose work she wishes to honor. She selected Mary Whiton Calkins, the first female president of the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association.

"Mary Calkins attended Harvard University in the late 1800s, but was never awarded a college degree because she was a woman," Lerman said. "One reason I chose to honor her was to rectify that old injustice, as well as to call attention to the contributions she made to the field of psychology."

The Mary W. Calkins Chair is funded by revenue from a $100 million endowment to the school
and policy center that was announced September 19, 2002, by the Walter Annenberg Foundation. Last year's bequest augmented the Annenberg's previous grant of $120 million. A newspaper and magazine publishing magnate, Annenberg founded the prestigious communications school at Penn in 1958.

Lerman came to Penn in 2001 from the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, where she was a Professor of Oncology, Psychiatry and Pharmacology, and Associate Director for Cancer Control. She was awarded her undergraduate degree in psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and she went on to earn a masters degree in psychology and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California. Prior to her work at Georgetown, she was Director of Behavioral Oncology Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Lerman has received numerous awards for her work, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine's New Investigator Award; the Preventive Oncology Academic Award from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association. She has also served on the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute and has co-chaired its Tobacco Research Implementing Group.


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Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $6.7 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2016 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2016, Penn Medicine provided $393 million to benefit our community.

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