PHILADELPHIA — Daniel J. Rader, MD, a widely recognized international leader in the human genetics of lipoprotein biology and cardiovascular disease, has been named the new chair of the Department of Genetics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a faculty member at Penn for 20 years and is currently the chief of the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics and the Edward S. Cooper, MD/Norman Roosevelt and Elizabeth Meriwether McLure Professor of Medicine.
“As a prominent physician-scientist, Dr. Rader will bring his robust knowledge of genetic approaches to improving health to guide the department of Genetics into an era where genes play a role in our strategies to prevent and treat a broad array of diseases,” said J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “His long record of leadership in the classroom, the exam room, and the lab will be invaluable to the department and overall genetics research at Penn.”
Dr. Rader holds multiple leadership roles at Penn Medicine. In addition to heading the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics within the Department of Medicine, he also serves as Associate Director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT).
He co-directs the new Penn Medicine BioBank, an integrated, centralized resource for consenting, collecting, processing, and storing DNA, plasma/serum, and tissue for human genetics and translational research. This venture is a cornerstone of Penn Medicine’s efforts in human genetics and translational and personalized medicine. Dr. Rader also has key relationships with Penn’s Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) and Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism (IDOM).
In his research program, Dr. Rader has used human genetics and model systems to elucidate novel biological pathways in lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis. His lab discovered and characterized the enzyme endothelial lipase, demonstrated its effects on high density lipoproteins (HDL) in mice, and then found that loss-of-function mutations in the gene cause high levels of HDL in humans. He is among the world’s leaders in using both humans and model systems to dissect the functional genomics of human genetic variants associated with plasma lipid traits as well as coronary heart disease.
He has had a long interest in Mendelian disorders of lipoprotein metabolism and has a strong translational interest in development of novel therapies for these disorders. He was involved in the identification of the molecular defect in a rare genetic disorder causing very low levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL), which spurred the development of inhibitors of this protein to reduce levels of LDL. Indeed, when one such drug was abandoned by a pharmaceutical firm, he went on to oversee its development for the orphan disease homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH), characterized by extremely high levels of LDL and heart disease in childhood. This decade-long endeavor led to FDA and European approval of lomitapide, the first effective medication for the treatment of HoFH.
Dr. Rader has received numerous awards as a physician-scientist, including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research, the Bristol Myers Squibb Cardiovascular Research Award, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Distinguished Clinical Investigator Award, the Jeffrey M. Hoeg Award for Basic Science and Clinical Research from the American Heart Association, the American Heart Association’s Clinical Research Prize, and the Clinical Research Forum’s Distinguished Clinical Research Award. He has been elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and to the Association of American Physicians. In 2011, he received one of the nation’s highest honors in biomedicine when he was elected to the Institute of Medicine.
Dr. Rader has also received many awards for his outstanding teaching activities. At the Perelman School of Medicine, he has received the William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award, as well as the Donald B. Martin Outstanding Teacher Award and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Department of Medicine. Along with these accolades, Dr. Rader has been honored by Philadelphia magazine, which has named him to its “Top Docs” honor roll every year since 2002.
Dr. Rader earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, followed by an internship and a residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Next, he served as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where he developed skills in basic science as well as translational research involving patients with genetic lipid disorders.
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.