News Release
Carl June
Carl June, MD

Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and a multicenter team, including researchers from Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) and the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, have received one of the inaugural $8 million TACTICAL (Therapy ACceleration To Intercept CAncer Lethality) Awards from the Prostate Cancer Foundation for their project titled, “Developing Engineered Cell Therapies for Metastatic Castrate-Resistant Prostate Cancer to Increase Efficacy and Decrease Toxicity.” Principle investigators with June include Joseph Fraietta, PhD, an assistant professor of Microbiology; Naomi Haas, MD, a professor of Hematology-Oncology; Avery Posey, PhD, an assistant professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics; and John Maris, MD, a professor of Pediatrics at Penn Medicine and a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.



Christopher Sande, Melanie Mumau, Alex Felix
Christopher Sande, MD, Melanie Mumau, PhD, Alex Felix, PhD

Three researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will join the Uplifting Athletes’ 2023 Young Investigator Draft Class. Each will receive a $20,000 research grant through the non-profit, which awards early-career researchers with unrestricted grants for rare disease research each year. 

  • Christopher Sande, MD, a fourth year resident in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, will use his grant on a project to uncover the genetic drivers of clonal hematopoiesis in those affected by telomere biology disorders, which put patients at an increased risk of developing certain blood cancers.
  • The grant for Melanie Mumau, PhD, a senior research investigator in the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL) will go toward her work in identifying key cell types and signaling pathways to discover new drug targets and therapies for Castleman disease and other cytokine storm disorders.
  • The grant going to Alex Felix, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Physiology, will aid his work aimed at developing and translating novel therapeutic strategies for rare neurodevelopmental disorders, including STXBP1 and SYNGAP1 encephalopathies, inherited conditions that often result in epilepsy and severe cognitive impairment.

Each researcher was nominated by a patient advocacy organization: Sande by Team Telomere, Mumau by the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, and Felix by the STXBP1 Foundation.


Renyu Liu
Renyu Liu, MD, MS, PhD

Renyu Liu, MD, MS, PhD, a professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, along with a multicenter team, won Best Animation at the 2022 New York City International Film Festival for an animated video on improving stroke awareness and responses in Africa. Liu had an instrumental role in the creation of the Stroke 112 program—a series of educational posters and videos to highlight the signs of stroke. The animation video was inspired by Liu’s paper,” Prehospital stroke care in Africa: The reality and potential solutions.” Collaborators for this initiative include Jing Zhao, MD, PhD, from Fudan University, Maryellen Eckenhoff, PhD, a research associate in Anesthesiology and Critical Care at Penn, and Rita Melifonwu, RN, a PhD candidate, from Stroke Action in Nigeria.

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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