Penn Medicine Racks Up Top Rankings

Female Employeer



Penn Medicine was named #2 on Forbes magazine’s first-ever “America's Best Employers for Women” list, which ranks employers across the nation.

Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to identify the companies who are the most successful at supporting and growing their female workforce. Statista surveyed 40,000 Americans, including 25,000 women, working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. The survey included questions related to working conditions, diversity and how likely they would be to recommend their employer to others.

“People created opportunities for me to be exposed to different parts of the organization and higher levels of leadership,” Regina Cunningham, PhD, CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), told Forbes. “I have worked at a number of hospitals—three other health care systems—and Penn Medicine has, by far, the best hospital culture.”

Penn Medicine was also named #6 among large employers on Forbes magazine’s annual “Best Employers in America” list, up from #7 in 2017.

On both lists, Penn Medicine was the highest ranking employer in Pennsylvania and in the health care industry overall.

Not only is Penn Medicine receiving recognition as a great place to work, but accolades also continue to accrue for the work happening within the institution: Penn Medicine hospitals were ranked among the top hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the 12th consecutive year, achieving Honor Roll status and top rankings in 12 clinical specialties. The combined enterprise of HUP and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center was named to the prestigious Honor Roll list, and ranked as the top hospital in Pennsylvania, in the 2018-2019 annual survey by the magazine. Out of nearly 5,000 hospitals analyzed nationwide, Penn Medicine is among only 20 institutions to be named to the publication’s 2018-2019 Honor Roll. According to the magazine’s editors, Honor Roll hospitals each perform near the top of the rankings in at least half a dozen specialty areas.


Preventable Hospital Readmissions Cut by More Than 25 Percent Under Innovative Contract


After the first year of an innovative, five-year contract between the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Independence Blue Cross (Independence), the health system reported a more than 25 percent cut in hospital readmissions—the largest readmission reduction in both organizations’ history. As part of the first collaboration of its kind in the United States between a health system and a health insurer, the two organizations have launched a new slate of innovations to reduce the number of patients who return to the hospital within a month of going home. The contract provided that Independence wouldn’t pay for the resulting hospitalization in those cases.

The new contract, which took effect July 1, 2017, marked Penn Medicine’s entry into a new way of working with Independence that is designed to encourage collaborative efforts by the insurer and health systems to improve quality of care and reduce health care costs for Independence members.

The efforts that led to this improvement included leveraging electronic health records to stratify patients by risk of readmission; improving coordination between the inpatient clinical team and outpatient follow-up and home health care; implementing more robust home care services for disease management and medication teaching after discharge; monitoring high-risk patients remotely after leaving the hospital; and reviewing patient data daily and having a care coordinator reach out to the patient if indicators are trending toward trouble.

“To see such a drastic improvement just one year into our partnership with Independence serves as a great motivator to continue finding ways to bend the curve of rising health care costs,” said Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “That can only happen if we work together to keep patients healthier, and in the first year of our new model, we’re proud to have shown that we can achieve both goals.”

Abramson Cancer Center Researchers Propel Drugs to Approval

Penn-Developed CAR T Cell Therapy Moves Ahead in Europe


“This approval demonstrates the global impact of the therapies we developed in Philadelphia, and the far-reaching potential of these therapies to change the way cancer is treated across the world.”

- Carl June, MD, Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy, Director, Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, Abramson Cancer Center

  • Personalized cellular therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel, formerly CTL019) approved by the European Commission (EC)
  • First chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy permitted for use in the European Union in two distinct indications: treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in patients up to age 25, and relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in patients over 18
  • Developed at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Novartis
  • Decision follows approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Kymriah in B-cell ALL and DLBCL in the United States



First Nonsurgical Treatment for Rare Neuroendocrine Tumors Approved

flash mob

“This is a true breakthrough. Until today, there were no anti-tumor therapies available for patients with these tumors who were not candidates for surgery.”

– Study Principal Investigator Daniel A. Pryma, MD, Associate Professor, Radiology and Radiation Oncology Chief, Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging

  • Targeted radiotherapy AZEDRA (iobenguane I131) approved by the FDA for nonsurgical treatment of neuroendocrine cancers
  • First ever nonsurgical treatment for the rare neuroendocrine cancers pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma approved by the FDA
  • Approval was based on a multi-center trial led by researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center and was granted to Progenics Pharmaceuticals








New Class Begins Journey into Medical Profession

White Coat

After receiving their short white coats and stethoscopes at the annual White Coat Ceremony in August, 152 incoming first-year medical school students at the Perelman School of Medicine recited the Declaration of Geneva, a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, pledging to treat the ill to the best of their abilities, preserve each patient's privacy, and to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation. They were surrounded by friends, family, and faculty.



Honors and Awards


Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Awards for Excellence

Three faculty members in the Perelman School of Medicine received awards from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the professional organization of all 151 accredited U.S. medical schools and nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems nationwide.



Robert Wood Johnson Foundation David E. Rogers Award: David A. Asch, MD, MBA’89, GME’87John Morgan Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Health Policy and Professor of Health Care Management at Wharton, and Executive Director, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation

The AAMC confers the award for “major contributions to improving the health and health care of the American people.”




Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award: Gail Morrison, MD’71, GME’76 Executive Director, Innovation Center for Online Medical Education, Special Advisor to EVP/Dean, and former Senior Vice Dean for Medical Education

Morrison was one of four recipients of the award recognizing outstanding contributions to medical education.



Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences: Stanley Plotkin, MD
Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics

The award honors outstanding medical research related to health and disease having a positive impact on medicine and on the health of patients and populations.



Elected Members, National Academy of Medicine

National Academy

From left: Susan M. Domchek, MD, Daniel E. Polsky, PhD, M. Celeste Simon, PhD, and Rachel M. Werner, MD’98, PhD’04

Four new Penn Medicine faculty members are among 75 new U.S. and 10 international members elected by their peers for accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health—one of the nation’s highest honors in biomedicine.

  • Susan M. Domchek, MD, Basser Professor in Oncology and Executive Director, Basser Center for BRCA
  • Daniel E. Polsky, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Director, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, and Robert D. Eilers Professor of Health Care Management at Wharton
  • M. Celeste Simon, PhD, Arthur H. Rubenstein, MBBCh Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology and Scientific Director, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute
  • Rachel M. Werner, MD’98, PhD’04, Professor of Medicine and of Health Care, Management at Wharton


António Champalimaud Vision Award


Jean Bennett, MD, PhD

F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology

Samuel G. Jacobson, MD, PhD

Professor of Ophthalmology

Albert M. Maguire, MD

Professor of Ophthalmology

The three Penn Medicine researchers were recognized for their revolutionary work leading to the first successful gene therapy to cure an inherited cause of childhood blindness, among seven total awardees sharing the 1 million Euro prize.

Sleep Research Society Distinguished Scientist Award

David F. Dinges, PhD, Professor and Chief, Sleep and Chronobiology

This award honors a single individual of prominence for contributions over an entire career and is the society’s highest honor.

Elected to the Italian Academy of Science and the German National Academy of Sciences

Garret FitzGerald, MD, Professor, Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, Director, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics

The German National Academy (Leopoldina), is the oldest continuously existing academy of medicine and the natural sciences in the world, and the Italian Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Lincean Academy) is the oldest national academy of science; each awarded FitzGerald for his scientific achievements.

American Society for Mass Spectrometry Biemann Medal

Benjamin A. Garcia, PhD, Presidential Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

The early-career award recognizes significant achievement in basic or applied mass spectrometry, a technique for detecting the components of a sample by their mass and charge.

Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research

Carl June, MD, Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Director, Center for Cellular Immunotherapy in the Abramson Cancer Center, and Director, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Albany Medical Center has given out the $500,000 award annually since 2001 to those “who have altered the course of medical research.” It is one of the largest prizes in medicine and science in the United States, according to the organization.

President of the American Society for the Surgery of the Hand

L. Scott Levin, MD, Paul B. Magnuson Professor of Bone and Joint Surgery, Chair, Orthopedic Surgery, and Professor, Plastic Surgery

The Society includes more than 3,800 orthopedic, plastic and general surgeons from around the world.

American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award

Jonathan D. Moreno, PhD, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor, Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professor, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, of History and Sociology of Science, and of Philosophy

The award is the Society's highest honor, recognizing excellence in bioethics, given in recognition of longstanding achievement. The Society cited Moreno as “one of the world’s foremost experts in bioethics and politics and bioethics in national security.”

Marfan Foundation Hero with Heart Award

Reed Pyeritz, MD, PhD, William Smilow Professor in Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics

The award pays tribute to Pyeritz’s four decades of dedication to improving heart health in the 200,000 people in the U.S. living with Marfan syndrome and related disorders. 

International Atherosclerosis Society Gotto Prize

Daniel Rader, MD, Seymour Gray Professor of Molecular Medicine and Chair, Genetics

The prize, which is given once every three years, recognizes outstanding scientific or medical advancement in understanding the causes and reducing the development of atherosclerosis.

Alzheimer’s Association’s Khalid Iqbal Lifetime Achievement Award in Alzheimer’s Research

John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, William Maul Measey-Truman G. Schnabel, Jr., M.D. Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

The leading nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research worldwide honored Trojanowski for his decades-long record of ground-breaking discoveries on neurodegenerative disease.


Perelman School of Medicine Welcomes New Academic Leaders

Benjamin Sun: Chair of Emergency Medicine

Benjamin Sun, MD, MPP, FACEP, joined Penn Medicine as chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in September. Sun is an emergency physician and federally funded health services researcher who is nationally recognized for his expertise in the areas of safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness in health care. He joined Penn Medicine from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland.

Sun has served as the principal investigator on 15 grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and private foundations with total funding of $11 million. His research has resulted in a substantial body of scholarly work in journals including Circulation, JAMA Internal Medicine, and Annals of Emergency Medicine.


Lisa Walke: Chief of Geriatric Medicine

Lisa M. Walke, MD, MSHA joined Penn Medicine in July as chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine in the Department of Medicine. Walke is nationally recognized as an outstanding leader in geriatrics who has pioneered innovative practice models directed to caring for the elderly. Walke joined Penn from the Yale University School of Medicine and its nationally recognized program in geriatrics, where she most recently served as an associate professor of Medicine and associate chief for clinical affairs of the Yale Geriatrics Section and was the project director for Yale’s federally funded Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program.

Among her many accomplishments, Walke established a comprehensive service line focused on improved patient experiences, lower cost, and improved population health for older adults in the greater New Haven Area. She also developed a hospital consultation service, a co-management program with Geriatric Psychiatry for their hospitalized patients, a senior-friendly emergency department, and a home visit program for homebound seniors. 

Walke’s scholarship is directed toward implementation science and focuses on developing innovative educational and care delivery models that improve health outcomes for older adults. In 2013, Walke was appointed as a Harvard Macy Institute Scholar and a AAMC Mid-Career Women Professional Development Scholar. Walke is also recognized as an outstanding teacher and innovator in geriatric medicine who has held leadership roles in education in geriatrics. 


E. John Wherry: Chair of Pharmacology

E. John Wherry, PhD, was appointed the new chair of the department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in July. Wherry is the Richard and Barbara Schiffrin President’s Distinguished Professor in the department of Microbiology and an international leader in the study of T cell exhaustion, which prevents optimal control of infections and can hamper anti-tumor immune responses.

He is currently director of the Institute for Immunology, co-leader of the Abramson Cancer Center’s Immunobiology Program, and co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Penn. In each of these leadership roles, he has fostered cross-disciplinary collaborations to accelerate discoveries and apply findings within the basic sciences to clinically translatable approaches.

The department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics ranks first in the nation among pharmacology departments for NIH funding. The department is closely involved with the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), home to the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) and in the leadership of the Penn Genomics Institute. Wherry’s appointment will create further bridges to many departments and centers by focusing on inflammation, leading to new high impact research in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics.

Penn Partnership to Improve Health Care Education and Quality of Care in Southeast Asia

South Asia

In an effort to improve health care and to create new undergraduate and graduate medical training programs in Vietnam, Penn Medicine and Penn Nursing have launched a formal alliance with the Vingroup—an enterprise that encompasses a newly formed private not-for-profit university project, VinUni, as well as the largest and leading private health service provider in Vietnam, Vinmec.

The partnership will focus initially on the establishment of medical and nursing schools within VinUni, and on the enhancement of graduate medical education and health care programs within the Vinmec Health Care System. Penn will also support the Vinmec Health Care System to enhance the quality of care and clinical training, initially at the International Hospital in Times City, Hanoi. The ultimate goal is to build a new VinUni/Vinmec teaching hospital in Hanoi, along with future plans to create medical residency training programs and a robust clinical research portfolio focused on translational medicine.

The new initiative is part of the Penn Center for Global Health’s strategy of establishing Regional Centers of Engagement to address disparities in health equity worldwide through efforts that unite Penn Medicine’s missions of education, research, clinical care and community service. The Penn Center for Global Health already operates Centers of Engagement in Africa (Botswana) and Latin America (Guatemala).




Basic and Translational Research in 280 Characters or Less

The new Benchmarks Twitter account (@PennMedBench) aims to amplify basic and translational research efforts and to create a diverse, interconnected network of Penn Medicine faculty and students, researchers and journal editors across institutions and disciplines, and other stakeholders, all while “looking at life in the dish, through the microscope, and in the cloud.” Whether profiling the brilliant minds leading the charge on scientific discovery, offering a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes process, celebrating milestones, sharing media coverage, or live-tweeting conferences and events, Benchmarks skips the jargon, unpacks the technical elements, and makes basic science research approachable and understandable.

Follow the Benchmarks account online at


Bioethics Perspective Vital in Dental Medicine, Too

I read with interest the “20 at 20” article on recipients of Penn’s Master’s of Bioethics (MBE) degree, having received my MBE in 2004. It was nice to see many faces of fellow classmates with whom I studied. I continue to be very proud of my degree and the fact that I was the first dentist to receive it. However, I was disappointed with the fact that you did not include a dentist in your list of twenty. Penn’s School of Dental Medicine continues to offer a double degree with the MBE program and there have been a number of degree recipients over the past twenty years. It is important to emphasize the need for a new generation of dentists to achieve the skills imparted in the program and apply them to the current ethical issues of dental healthcare.

I commend you and Penn Medicine Magazine for highlighting a wonderful MBE program. It is amazing that twenty years have passed.

Jeffrey G. Garber, DMD, MBE’04

Assistant Professor of Restorative Dentistry, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine Former Clinical Associate Professor of Oral Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine



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