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richard wender family community med

PHILADELPHIA – Richard C. Wender, MD, a longtime Family and Community Medicine professor and physician in Philadelphia, has been named chair of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Wender, who will begin his role at Penn Medicine on August 17, 2020, is currently a professor of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University.

A Perelman School of Medicine graduate and a nationally-recognized leader in the specialty, Wender was the chair of Family and Community Medicine at Jefferson for 12 years and served as the first ever Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society. At Jefferson, Wender was responsible for substantial service line growth including the creation of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and a Palliative Care program. His work has led to methods that address social determinants of health and health equity.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr. Wender to Penn, as he is superbly qualified to lead the Department to its next level of excellence in all of its mission areas,” J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine and executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System.  “In addition to delivering excellent primary care and community health services, the Department provides strong residency, fellowship, medical student education, and research programs. As a locus for Penn Medicine’s public and community health initiatives, the Department has strong ties with the University-wide Center for Public Health Initiatives, Masters of Public Health Program, and other public health activities.”

Wender succeeds Matthew Press, MD, MSc, interim chair of Family Medicine and Community Health, who has led the Department since August 2018. During his tenure, the Department continued to advance scientific understanding and meet the primary-care needs of a diverse patient population with various health conditions. Press will continue to serve as the physician executive of Penn Primary Care and the medical director of the Primary Care Service Line, partnering closely with Wender.

“Now more than ever, primary care is centrally important to Penn Medicine’s mission,” said Kevin B. Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Over the past few years, we have taken major steps to expand, align, and strengthen our primary care services and community health activities. Dr. Wender has articulated an exciting vision to expand the Department’s clinical and non-clinical health services, educational opportunities and research, with a focus on elevating engagement within our West Philadelphia community to address health disparities and to serve as a national model.”

Wender received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Princeton University. After medical school at Penn, he completed his residency in Family Medicine at Jefferson University.  

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, 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 Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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