News Release
celeste simon
M. Celeste Simon, PhD

PHILADELPHIA -- Three faculty members at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania — including two in Cell and Developmental Biology — have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a private, nonprofit institution established under congressional charter that recognizes achievement in science by election to membership. With the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine, NAS provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations. This year’s Penn Medicine inductees were elected among 120 new members nationally in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Of those, 59 are women, the most elected in a single year.


Penn Medicine’s inductees include M. Celeste Simon, PhD, the Arthur H. Rubenstein, MBBCh Professor in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the scientific director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute; and Marisa S. Bartolomei, PhD, the Perelman Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology and co-Director of the Epigenetics Institute.


In all, 18 Perelman School of Medicine faculty are members of the NAS. With this year’s inductees, Penn's department of Cell and Developmental Biology holds the additional distinction of now having five members of NAS, all women.

The additional NAS members in Penn’s department of Cell and Developmental Biology are:

marisa bartolomei
Marisa S. Bartolomei, PhD

Simon and her lab research the metabolism of cancer cells, tumor immunology, metastasis, and how healthy cells and cancer cells respond to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. Her work uses both animal models and cancer patient samples, and her goal is to create techniques to treat various tumors like kidney cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, liver cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Simon was the recipient of a National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award in 2017, and she has authored over 275 articles in journals like CellScienceNatureCancer DiscoveryNature Genetics, and Cancer Cell.

Crossing into the disciplines of cell and molecular biology, pharmacology, and neuroscience, Bartolomei and her lab investigate genomic imprinting in mice. Specifically, they focus on the H19 gene which is only expressed in maternal alleles, in order to better uncover the mechanisms behind imprinting and the effects of the environment, assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and endocrine disruptors. Her lab also looks into the molecular and genetic systems behind X inactivation in mice. Her research has been published widely in journals including NatureNature Biotechnology, Development, and PLoS Genetics. 

Katherine A. High, MD, an emeritus professor of Pediatrics who is now president, Therapeutics, forAskBio, was also elected to NAS this year.


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 $8.9 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 $496 million awarded in the 2020 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 Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 44,000 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 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.

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