Entering a New Decade of Discovery: ITMAT, IDOM, and CVI

Just over 10 years ago, the Perelman School of Medicine – envisioning the potential of collaborative work across the School to benefit the health of patients with interrelated conditions – established three institutes with integrated missions. 

Today, the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism (IDOM), and the Penn Cardiovascular Institute (CVI), all founded by former Perelman School dean Arthur H. Rubenstein, M.B.,B.Ch., have made measurable contributions to im­proving public health, further positioning Penn Medicine at the forefront of modern health care advances. 

“Dean Rubenstein demonstrated great foresight in creating these three biomedical institutes fo­cused on integrating Penn Medicine’s research, clinical, and educational missions into an innovative care model,” said J. Larry Jameson, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “ITMAT, IDOM, and CVI transcend the traditional bounds of academic disciplines and departments, encouraging increased collaboration and serving as a paradigm for other institutions.”


Sample storage at Penn Medicine’s BioBank run by ITMAT

ITMAT: Leading the Charge from the Bench to the Bedside

The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics – the first institute of translational medicine in the world and replicated 100 times globally – is Penn Medicine’s signature sci­entific program. Its mission is to convert laboratory discoveries into new and safer therapies – with a special focus on partner­ing with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to bridge pedi­atric and adult medicine for a lifetime of health for patients. 

ITMAT marshals the entire Philadelphia region in the pur­suit of breakthrough medicine, including a core faculty of about 40 and more than 2,000 investigators from all Penn schools, CHOP, the Wistar Institute, the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and the University of the Sciences. ITMAT has also successfully expanded the number of faculty capable of pursuing translational research and increased the quantity and quality of such work while also training more than 100 gradu­ates with its master’s degree program in translational medicine.

The strength of ITMAT’s approach – with more than 900 clinical trials and 31,000 visits annually – is evident in major breakthroughs emerging from Penn-CHOP collaborations in recent years. These include Dr. Carl June’s groundbreaking immunotherapy for leukemia as well as Penn’s Dr. Jean Bennett and CHOP’s Dr. Katherine High treating inherited forms of blindness. These discoveries have received significant media attention and revealed Philadelphia as a laboratory of innovation.

“Over the last decade, we have helped to pave the way for new therapies for diseases and disorders that affect millions around the world,” said ITMAT director Garret FitzGerald, M.D., F.R.S., the McNeil Professor in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and vice dean for translational science.

IDOM: Helping Patients Live Normal Lives

The mission of Penn’s Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism is to understand the genetic, biochemical, molec­ular, environmental, and behavioral origins of diabetes, obe­sity, and other metabolic diseases; reduce their incidence and severity; and translate its findings to the latest and best in pa­tient care.

In its first 10 years, IDOM has been one of the pre-eminent centers for diabetes and obesity research in the United States. It is one of only 16 diabetes research centers in the country funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, demonstrating Penn Medicine’s ability to raise awareness and interest in fundamental and clinical di­abetes research – in Philadelphia and across the nation.

“Diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders are com­plicated and often have many contributing genetic and envi­ronmental factors,” said IDOM director Mitchell A. Lazar, M.D., Ph.D., the Sylvan H. Eisman Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabo­lism. “For example, for most people, there won’t be one gene that causes diabetes – there will be many, operating in path­ways, interacting with environmental factors. People develop diabetes for different reasons. Our challenge is to identify and understand all those reasons and devise unique, individual­ized diets and treatment plans.”

IDOM fosters collaboration across the university, uniting more than 100 Penn faculty members in multidisciplinary re­search teams. Together, they develop successful approaches and state-of-the-art therapeutic options for patients – from prevention to cure.

Thanks in part to IDOM, Penn Medicine is recognized as one of the top medical institutions in the U.S. for diabetes re­search and care in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014-2015 “Best Hospitals” issue.

Penn CVI: Celebrating a Decade of Progress Fighting Heart Disease


Penn Medicine leadership gathers in the Smilow Center for Translational Research to celebrate IDOM’s 10th anniversary.

The 10th anniversary of Penn’s Cardiovascular Institute – which boasts many of the nation’s leaders in fundamental car­diac biology, arrhythmia, and heart failure – was noted at a special “Penn Medicine Advances” at The Franklin Institute in November.

CVI is home to nationally leading programs for many of the most complex cases, including heart transplant, cardiac elec­trophysiology, and complex aortic surgery. Aiding in the CVI’s achievements was the recent and highly successful Campaign for CVI, which exceeded its original goal and garnered $17.8 million, three new endowed professorships, five term fellow­ships, and unrestricted research funds – all essential to con­tinued progress in cardiovascular services.

The development of new treatments at Penn has been greatly assisted by the University’s focus on basic science – beyond gene sequencing, stem cell technology can now trans­form skin cells into cardiac muscle. “Big data” – the enormous data sets of electronic medical records compiled by the health system – allows Penn researchers to identify the complex pat­terns hidden in heart disease and other conditions and to de­velop treatments and cures. 


The Franklin Institute hosted this fall’s Penn Medicine Advances, during which the Penn CVI was lauded for 10 strong years.

“Penn created the CVI to pull researchers from across the entire university together in disease-focused, interdisciplinary studies,” said CVI Director Michael S. Parmacek, M.D., the Frank Wister Thomas Professor of Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine. “Now, we’re seeing the fruits of this revolutionary idea as the CVI – as well as IDOM and ITMAT – make game-changing discoveries that translate into better patient care.”

“Driven by collaboration and innovation, these institutes virtually embody Penn’s commitment to lead.” 

Rubenstein Chair Established

As ITMAT, CVI, and IDOM celebrate 10 years of discovery, their founding dean has been honored with an endowed chair in his name. The Arthur H. Rubenstein, MBBCh, Professorship is the generous gift of Janet Haas, MD, and John Haas, as well as Anne and Jerome Fisher.

“I am especially grateful to the Haases and Fishers for their generosity and vision in creating this chair,” said Dr. Rubenstein. “Endowed professorships play a critical role in academic medicine, providing essential support for recruit­ing and retaining the finest talent and giving them the resources to carry out innovative research."

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