News Release

Five experts from the University of Pennsylvania have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the nation’s highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor Desmond Upton Patton, along with Kurt T. Barnhart, Christopher B. Forrest, Susan L. Furth, and Robert H. Vonderheide from the Perelman School of Medicine are among the 100 new members, elected by current NAM members. They join 83 other Penn members who are part of the prestigious group of health care thought leaders, clinicians, and researchers.

Election to the Academy recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

This year’s new Penn members:

Kurt T. Barnhart specializes in the clinical and epidemiologic aspects of reproduction including ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and infertility. He is the William Shippen Jr. Professor Obstetrics and Gynecology and a professor of Epidemiology in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn. He also is the director of the Women’s Health Clinical Research Center and the vice chair of research within the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Barnhart’s research focuses on the novel preparation of biomarkers for disease processes, for use as predictors or diagnostic aids, as well as on efficacy and safety outcomes after clinical interventions. Through his research and clinical care focused on evidence-based medicine, Barnhart has helped to set the standard of Ob/Gyn and fertility care worldwide.

Christopher B. Forrest is a professor of Pediatrics and the director of the Applied Clinical Research Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He is also the executive director of PEDSnet, a national pediatric learning health system. Forrest was instrumental in advancing the NIH PROMIS initiative, which provides patient-reported measures for children and adults to report on their own health and experiences. Another area of focus for Forrest is the new field of life course health science (LCHS), which will seek to include children more often in lifespan research with the goal of facilitating better how health, disease, and wellbeing are produced over the full life course.

Susan L. Furth is chief scientific officer and an executive vice president of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She holds the Edmond F. Notebaert Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research. She was president of the Society for Pediatric Research and named to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. Furth’s scientific contributions to the study of pediatric chronic kidney disease (CKD) have led to the definition of pediatric CKD’s progression, improved outcomes, and improvement in the methods used to study the disease. Her work plays a critical role in breaking down the barriers to developing therapeutic clinical trials for children with kidney diseases. The National Kidney Foundation recognized Dr. Furth’s contributions to an evidence-base for kidney disease treatment with the Excellence in Care Award. She has received numerous mentoring awards, including the FOCUS Award for the Advancement of Women in Medicine.

Desmond Upton Patton is a pioneer in the interdisciplinary fusion of social work, communications, and data science. A Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor, Patton is the Brian and Randi Schwartz University Professor with joint appointments in the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and the Annenberg School for Communication, and with a secondary appointment in the Perelman School of Medicine. Patton is also the founding director of SAFELab, a research initiative affiliated with Annenberg and SP2 that examines how to support youth of color in navigating grief and violence in social media environments and researches innovative methods to promote joy and healing in digital contexts. At SP2, he is also chief strategy officer and the director of the Penn Center for Inclusive Innovation and Technology.

Robert H. Vonderheide is a distinguished scientist and clinician who has deciphered mechanisms of cancer immune surveillance and is well recognized for developing novel cancer therapeutics, particularly in pancreatic and breast cancer. Vonderheide is the director of the Abramson Cancer Center and the John H. Glick, MD, Abramson Cancer Center’s Director Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is vice dean and vice president for Cancer Programs at Penn Medicine. Vonderheide is well-recognized for driving the development of cancer immunotherapies including agonist CD40 antibodies and for discovering telomerase as a universal tumor antigen. He is leading efforts to develop telomerase vaccination for both cancer therapy and prevention, as well as work to improve access to clinical trials.


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.

Share This Page: