This issue of Penn Medicine has arti­cles on both the very near and the very far. The very far in this case is Liberia, about 4,650 miles away. That’s where one of the Perelman School’s alumnae, Venee Tubman, M.D. ’06, visits periodi­cally to screen newborns for sickle cell disease and to offer treatment for affected children. The near is as near as one can get: the Penn campus and the city itself. But I must qualify that immediately: the Penn campus and the campus of our neighbor, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

When Miriam Falco, who wrote our cover story on suc­cessful collaborations between Penn Medicine and CHOP, visited these two grand Philadelphia institutions last fall, she was struck by their proximity. Although she had been in the city on earlier occasions, this was the first time she appreciated how close Penn and CHOP actually were. To help her get a fuller sense of the environment, I took her on a brief walking tour. It included a visit to some older buildings, like the John Morgan Building (originally opened in 1904) and newer buildings, like the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine (opened in 2008). From there, it was up a few stories to the Henry Jordan M’62 Medical Educa­tion Center, which officially opened last year. From its gen­erously sized windows, we could view the surrounding area and the newest CHOP and Penn Medicine buildings that have dramatically changed the skyline of Civic Center Bou­levard. On our walk, too, it did not escape her notice that HUP’s Silverstein Pavilion could shake hands with its close neighbor on 34th Street, the Main Building of Children’s Hospital. The setting for collaborations seems ideal.

Also in the near category: our article on the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, which pairs high-risk pa­tients in the surrounding communities with workers who help them to navigate the health system. The center’s work has and been covered in, among other places, The New York Times, NPR, and Forbes. In the article, one of the community health workers and his patient take the El to Reading Terminal Market to pick out some healthy fruits and vegetables. You don’t get more Philly than that!

Our last “near” article is on Penn’s patient portal, myPennMedicine. An example of cloud computing, mPM allows doctors and their staffs to communicate with patients and their fam­ilies in a new, efficient way. At last estimate, about 240,000 people actively use the portal, and I count myself as one of its satisfied users.

Back to very far. Dr. Tubman, a pediatric hematologist/on­cologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Hospital, is very much a woman on the move, as our writer, Lori L. Ferguson, notes at the beginning of the article. Indeed, between her commitments in Boston and Liberia, pinning Tubman down for interviews and getting some stateside photographs was tricky. (She very nicely allowed us to run some photos that she had from Liberia.) Her ties to Liberia have historical roots: her grandfather was William Tubman, who served as the nation’s president from 1944 to 1971. He was called “the father of modern Liberia.” Of particular relevance for a granddaughter in medicine: Tubman had the streets of Monrovia, the capital, paved; had a public sanitation system installed; and ordered the construction of hospitals.

As noted, Venee Tubman’s special mission in Liberia in­volves sickle cell disease. But she also told us that this in­herited disorder, although much more common in Liberia, does affect Americans as well, and she is concerned that people are not as familiar with it here as they should be. When she says, “I’m truly passionate about delivering out­standing patient care and empowering people,” her ac­tions speak as loudly as her words. She also gives credit to Penn for helping her to realize her potential. She is cer­tainly making her medical school proud.

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