PHILADELPHIA – Jonathan A. Epstein, MD, Chairman of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Co-director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine, participated in a panel discussion following the WHYY-TV pre-screening of “Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita,” in December.
Delving into one of the hot button political issues for 2008, the film describes the personal experience of stem cell researcher Jack Kessler of Northwestern University when his daughter lost the use of her legs in a skiing accident. National airing of the film starts on January 15 and is slated to air on WHYY-TV 12 at 10:00 PM EST on Thursday January 17 (http://www.whyy.org/widerhorizons/events.html).
“Touching on issues such as stem-cell research in film in a personal way helps bring understanding to a difficult and complicated topic and puts a human face on the need for research,” says Epstein.
When Kessler was invited to head up the Neurology Department at Northwestern, his focus was on using stem cells to treat the neurological complications of diabetes. However, soon after his move to Chicago, his daughter, Allison, then age 15, was injured in a skiing accident and paralyzed from the waist down. In the moments following the accident, Dr. Kessler made the decision to change the focus of his research to begin looking for a cure for spinal cord injuries using embryonic stem cells. The film follows his alternately frustrating and exhilarating research, as well as two young women whose lives were devastatingly altered by spinal cord injuries.
Penn’s Epstein specializes in exploring the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular development, especially their implications for understanding and treating human disease. Epstein is also the William Wikoff Smith Chair in Cardiovascular Research and the scientific director of the Penn Cardiovascular Institute. He practices medicine in the cardiac intensive care unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veteran Administration Hospital.
Dr. Epstein will be available for comment on the film. Please contact Karen Kreeger to set up an interview.
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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 $5.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 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 $373 million awarded in the 2015 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 Chestnut Hill Hospital and 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 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.