National Academy of Medicine Elects Three New Members from Penn

Three professors from the University of Pennsylvania have been elected members to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the nation's highest honors in biomedicine. NAM was originally the Institute of Medicine, which was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected to the NAM by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. 

The NAM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer their service on NAM committees and boards and in other activities.

The new Penn NAM members:

Dennis E. Discher, PhD, is the Robert D. Bent Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He joined Penn in 1996 following postdoctoral work in computational biophysics as a U.S. National Science Foundation International Fellow at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. He received his PhD jointly from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, for studies of cell membrane physics and spliceform biochemistry. He holds secondary appointments in Bioengineering and in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and is a member of Graduate Groups in Cell and Molecular Biology, Pharmacology, and Physics. His research has focused on stem cell differentiation in relation to physicochemical properties of microenvironments, which differ greatly between tissues and in injury and disease.  His group uses engineered polymer systems in studies that have extended to questions on drug carriers, particularly the roles of nanoscale features and immune system interactions. Discher was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the National Science Foundation in 1999, and was elected in 2012 to the National Academy of Engineering. He is the Principal Investigator at Penn of an NCI-funded Physical Sciences Oncology Center, which fosters research into new physical principles in cancer development, and straddles the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Perelman School of Medicine, and the School of Arts and Science. Discher has authored more than 200 widely cited publications in journals that range from Science and Cell to Physical Review Letters, Nature Materials, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society

Sean Hennessy is a professor of epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine. He received his Pharm.D. in clinical pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science and his Ph.D. in epidemiology from Penn. Hennessy’s primary field of interest is pharmacoepidemiology, the study of the health effects of drugs and other medical products in populations. He is a past scientific chair and past president of the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology and has served on the FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management. In 2015 he began a three-year term on the board of directors of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Hennessy is a co-editor of the books Pharmacoepidemiology (5th edition) and Textbook of Pharmacoepidemiology (2nd edition) and is editor for the Americas of the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. He received the 2005 Young Alumnus Award from USciences, 2007 Leon I. Goldberg Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and 2013 Samuel Martin Health Evaluation Sciences Research Award from the Perelman School of Medicine. Hennessy also directs Penn’s Center for Pharmacoepidemiology Research and Training and pharmacoepidemiology training programs associated with the Center. He teaches clinical epidemiology to medical and graduate students and is active in promoting evidence-based practice at Penn Medicine, co-chairing its Drug Use and Effects Committee and serving on its Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. Hennessy’s clinical program has received two Quality and Safety Awards from the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Frances E. Jensen is a professor of neurology, chair of the Department of Neurology and co-director of the Penn Medicine Translational Neuroscience Center at the Perelman School of Medicine. Prior to Penn, she was a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a senior neurologist at both Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital, Boston. Jensen received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College and took her residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's. She was chief resident in neurology at The Harvard Longwood Neurology Training Program, followed by a fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Her research has focused on investigating mechanisms of epilepsy as well as their age-dependent differences, with special attention to the interactions between brain development, brain injury, epilepsy and cognition. In addition to receiving the NIH Director's Pioneer Award and the American Epilepsy Research Recognition Award, she has been continuously funded by NIH since 1987 and has trained more than 30 research fellows. Jensen has been a council member of the Society for Neuroscience and was president of the American Epilepsy Society in 2012. She serves on a number of patient and research advocacy boards and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the editorial board of Annals of Neurology and a reviewing editor for the Journal of Neuroscience. Jensen is the author of more than 150 manuscripts and the author of a widely acclaimed book, The Teenage Brain.

Story Photo