PHILADELPHIA –Three students and one researcher from the Perelman School of Medicine have been chosen as recipients of Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Awards. The three students, Kristopher Bosse, Amit Khera, and Emily Williams, received Research Training Fellowships and John Chang, MD, received a Physician-Scientist award.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awards, which total $11.1 million, give medical students the opportunity to take a year off from their medical training to gain research experience. Young scientists who bridge the gap between basic research and clinical medicine at 14 academic medical centers get a boost at a vital time in their career.

The Research Training Fellowship allows students to implement a research plan and work at a lab anywhere in the U.S. except the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, MD. All three Medical Fellows have chosen to work and do their research at their home institution, Penn’s School of Medicine. This is the 24th year that HHMI has provided support for students to work in research labs.

The Early Career Physician-Scientist program supports the careers of promising translational researchers, such as Dr. Chang, a HHMI-NIH Research Scholars Program Alumnus. Specifically, 19 physicians who are just beginning their independent research careers, with less than two years in a tenure-track position, are awarded $375,000 over five-years to help develop their research programs during a vulnerable time in their careers.

Chang has shown that a certain type of T cell, called a CD8 cell, does not divide into identical “daughter” T cells when it comes into contact with a virus. Instead, it divides into two different cells: a T cell that fights the invader and a T cell that remembers it. He plans to see if this phenomenon, called asymmetric division, also occurs in other types of T cells, especially memory cells. The work has implications for both vaccine development and treatment of multiple diseases, including cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. During his study, Chang worked in the laboratory of Steven L. Reiner, MD, Professor, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. The discovery of asymmetric division was listed as one of the journal Science’s top-10 breakthroughs of 2007.

Kristopher Bosse is working on a project entitled “Identification of BRCAI-Associated RING Domain (BARDI) as a Neuroblastoma Predisposition Gene and It’s Role in Initiating Neuroblastoma Tumorigenesis.” His mentor is John Maris, MD, Director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Amit Khera is working on a project entitled “The Role of GALNT2-Mediated O-Linked Glycosylation in High-Density Lipoprotein Metabolism.” His mentor is Daniel Rader, MD, Director of Preventive Cardiology and the Clinical and Smilow Center for Translational Research (SCTR) at Penn.

Emily Williams is working on a project entitled “The Role of ARNT in Embryonic Vascular Development and Hematopoiesis.” Her mentor is Celeste Simon, PhD, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Penn and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.


PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals — its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.


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 $7.8 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 $405 million awarded in the 2017 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 Medicine Princeton 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, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, a leading provider of highly skilled and compassionate behavioral healthcare.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2017, Penn Medicine provided $500 million to benefit our community.

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