News Release
Foteini Mourkioti, PhD

Foteini Mourkioti, PhD, an assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and of Cell and Developmental Biology, and co-director of the Musculoskeletal Regeneration Program in the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is leading one of only four animal studies awarded a new research grant from NASA. The agency has awarded 15 grants for new space biology research designed to help achieve NASA’s goals under the Artemis lunar exploration program. Teams of investigators will use state-of-the-art genetic and other biological techniques to explore how life adapts and changes during spaceflight, and the results could help support human exploration of the Moon, and ultimately, Mars. Mourkioti’s work will investigate how space-flight-like conditions impact telomere length in muscle stem cells and how that impacts muscle atrophy.


Julie Dees

Shreya Kangovi, MD, MSHP

Carrie Kovarik, MD

Cecilia M. W. Livesey, MD

Nicole O’Donnell

Five Penn Medicine researchers, faculty, and staff members were honored at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s first Influencers of Healthcare Awards. The program included a panel discussion among healthcare professionals including Penn Medicine’s Lee A. Fleisher, MD, and Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, about how millennials will impact the future of the healthcare field followed by an awards ceremony honoring Philadelphia's heroes of healthcare.

The winners included:

Julie Dees, director of Behavioral Health at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, was recognized for Excellence in Innovation. Dees has more than 20 years of combined clinical and administrative leadership experience, and has experience in departmental and organizational vision and growth, staff development, building and fostering positive community relationships, and successful engagement with community partners. Dees envisioned a crisis model of engagement within emergency departments for individuals having overdosed or likely to have opioid use disorder, and was awarded a $1.5M grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to implement this model of treatment. Bringing the role of Certified Recovery Specialists front and center, Dees leads the Penn Center for Opioid Recovery and Engagement (CORE) team piloting and implementing innovative peer-led strategies.

Shreya Kangovi, MD, MSHP, founding executive director of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers and an associate professor of General Internal Medicine, was recognized as an Outstanding Educator. Kangovi is a leading national expert on the use of community health workers – trusted laypeople from local communities – to improve population health. Her research also sheds light on patient perspectives on health and health care utilization. Since its founding, the Penn Center for Community Health Workers has become a national center of excellence dedicated to advancing health in low-income populations through effective community health worker programs. The center is a hub for ongoing research and development of best practices for community health workers. Kangovi led the team that designed IMPaCT, a standardized, scalable community health worker program which has been proven in three randomized controlled trials to improve chronic disease control, primary care access, mental health and quality of care while reducing hospital admissions. The program has achieved an annual return on investment of $2 for every dollar invested. IMPaCT has been delivered to over 7,000 high-risk patients in the Philadelphia region, and is being replicated nationally.

Carrie Kovarik, MD, an associate professor of Dermatology, was recognized for Excellence in Volunteerism. Kovarik focuses on access to health care, telemedicine, informatics, and HIV-related skin disease. She created the Penn Dermatology Global Health program, through which she works to provide clinical care and education in underserved communities. She has implemented numerous innovative telemedicine programs in underserved communities in the United States and globally using mobile phones, electronic medical records, open source technology, and accessory medical devices. She is also focused on developing, sustaining, and advocating for new models of quality health care that can increase access through telemedicine and other means. Kovarik obtained her medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine and received her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M.

Cecilia M. W. Livesey, MD, chief of Integrated Services in the department of Psychiatry, was honored with both the Excellence in Patient Care and Excellence in Innovation awards. Livesey, also a clinical assistant professor of Psychiatry and associate residency program director of Clinical Training, has spearheaded several educational and organizational initiatives, including the implementation of collaborative care in the Primary Care Service Line. The Penn Integrated Care (PIC) program has served thousands of patients since its inception. Livesey also created an integrated, proactive program on the inpatient units called Mental Health Engagement Navigation and Delivery (MEND). She has led a variety of academic and institutional committees, collaborated on the reorganization and enhancement of the Department's clinical services and has written extensively on the challenges facing transitional aged youth., a Certified Recovery Specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital, was recognized for excellence in patient care for her work at Penn Medicine’s Center for Opioid Recovery and Engagement.

Nicole O’Donnell, a Certified Recovery Specialist at both the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, was recognized for excellence in patient care for her work at Penn Medicine’s Center for Opioid Recovery and Engagement. O’Donnell has extensive experience working with individuals with Substance Use Disorder, and their families. Her work currently includes reaching out to those experiencing homelessness, substance use, and mental health barriers. 





OCD Team


Penn’s Orphan Disease Center (ODC) has received a $100,000 grant from The Allergan Foundation to support the ODC Jump Start Program. The program aims to serve smaller, ultra-rare disease groups who are in the early stages of establishing a research program and lack the scientific knowledge, resources and infrastructure to do so. The program partners with patient groups and families to address gaps by identifying key opinion leaders and introducing new researchers to a disease. ODC facilitates the development of animal models, establishes patient registries, organizes research as well as patient-focused meetings, and/or connects the patient community with relevant academics and members of industry to ultimately advance science in otherwise overlooked disease areas. This grant will help to underwrite the costs of the program, allowing the ODC team to continue its work in rare disease research.




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 medical schools in the United States for more than 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 $425 million awarded in the 2018 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; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 40,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2018, Penn Medicine provided more than $525 million to benefit our community.

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