Monthly Archives: December 2012

Woof! Woof! Happy Holidays from our Furry Friends

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Here in Penn’s Western Regional Office, we love our pets . Like any proud parents, we often share photos of our “kids.” Our furry friends obliged us and allowed us to dress them for the season.

Elizabeth Fields, Director of Penn’s Western Regional office, said her dog Leinie wasn’t too excited about this Hanukkah sweater, but she consented to wear it long enough to take her picture.

Leinie dutifully wearing a Hanukkah sweater.

Felicity Woods, C’93, a volunteer with the Penn Club of Northern California’s Sacramento chapter, shared photos of her two dogs Jack and Minimus in their holiday finery.

Jack lives in California, so of course he has bling-y shades to ring in the New Year:

Jack ready to celebrate the New Year!

Jack’s cousin Minimus is looking festive in his red bow tie. He received a dollar for his dancing abilities!

Minimus looking suave in his red tie.

Minimus looking suave in his red tie.

Minimus looks good in both red and green, as evidenced by this festive green collar he’s wearing here:

Minimus in his Christmas collar.

Jack and Minimus’ cousin Payton likes wearing a tiara.

Here's a male who likes a tiara!

Here’s a male who likes a tiara!

Lisa Cohen, C’85, PAR’15, co-president of the Southern California Regional Advisory Board, shared her family pet photos.

In the Cohen household, Penn is prominent – they named their dog Penni!

Penni Cohen looks sweet in this purple scarf.

Penni Cohen looks sweet in this purple scarf.

The Cohen bunnies, Quaker and Ben, were excited to celebrate Hanukkah.

Quaker and Ben Cohen celebrating Hanukkah in Los Angeles.

Quaker and Ben Cohen celebrating Hanukkah in Los Angeles.

Lisa tells me that Ben (the brown rabbit) is a little chunky, just like his namesake Ben Franklin. And, “Quaker likes the limelight so much (like the real Quaker mascot!!) we could barely get her off the couch and back in the rabbit carrier.”

Finally, here are my “angels,” as we affectionately call them when they’re running around the house barking at the possum in our yard. Standing in line at the mall with a bunch of other dogs around was  a bit overstimulating, so I’m amazed they were able to sit still for this photo with Santa. Koa and Lau Lau are trying to be on their best behavior so that they’ll be on Santa’s Nice list.

Koa and Lau Lau sit for Santa.

 Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year from

Leinie, Jack, Minimus, Penni, Ben, Quaker, Koa and Lau Lau!

Woof! Woof!


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Filed under Kiera R., Photos, Uncategorized, West Coast Regional Office

My Top Penn: Star of Wonder – A Year of Penn Research.

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Since it is that time of year – a time of wonder and joy, a time of hope and miracles – I wanted to highlight some of the wonderful research and symposia that the University of Pennsylvania has shared with the world this year.

During this time, I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and fantastic 2013.

 10.          Penn Study: Anti-Tau Drug Improves Cognition, Decreases Tau Tangles in Alzheimer’s Disease Models

 Penn Medicine research that was presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) shows that an anti-tau treatment called epithilone D (EpoD) was effective in preventing and intervening the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in animal models, improving neuron function and cognition, as well as decreasing tau pathology.

 For more information, please read the Penn News press release.

9.            Nursing, Veterans, and PTSD: First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden with Penn Nursing

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden visited Penn Nursing this April for “Nursing, Veterans, and PTSD,” part of a national program charging nurses to identify, treat, and conduct research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They announced a major initiative by more than 150 of America’s leading nursing organizations and more than 450 nursing schools to ensure our nation’s nurses are prepared to help meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families.

Attention to PTSD is a significant component of Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s project created to champion wellness, education, and employment among military service members and their families. PTSD is a serious and widespread anxiety disorder affecting veterans, and the symptoms can be terrifying.

For more information about  the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s visit, see “Nursing, Veterans, and PTSD.”

8.            Penn Researchers Show Relationship with Working Dogs Protect Handlers from PTSD

Melissa Hunt, the associate director of the clinical training program in the School of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has long been interested in this dynamic as it relates to people and their pets. But a chance encounter propelled her to study it in an extreme case: search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers.  “Search-and-rescue dogs are not just pets; they’re partners,” Hunt said, meaning this dynamic is even stronger — and the stakes even higher — for people who work with animals.

For more information about Melissa Hunt’s research, please read the Penn News press release.

7.            Penn Study: For Cardiac Stenting Procedures, Wrist Access Offers Cost Saving Benefits over Groin Access

Research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington Medical Center, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, indicates that radial radial artery catheterization may offer a significant cost savings benefit to hospitals. The findings are published online first in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

An example of a stent (image courtesy of Wikipedia).

“Radial artery access is the primary mode of access for catheterization procedures in Europe, Canada, and Japan, but has not gained widespread acceptance in the United States, possibly stemming from concerns about increases in procedure time, radiation exposure, and access failure in patients,” said Matthew D. Mitchell, PhD, senior research analyst in the Center for Evidence-based Practice at Penn Medicine. “This study suggests that the adoption of radial catheterization could be a more viable option for many hospitals and health systems, lowering costs and reducing complications for patients.”

For more information about the findings, visit Penn Medicine’s press release.

6.            The Perelman School of Medicine received the largest capital gift during the Making History Campaign to name the Smilow Center for Translational Research

A father and son team, Joel and William Smilow, gave the Perelman School of Medicine the largest capital gift during the Making History campaign to allow doctors to take the findings of medical investigations and put that into practice quickly and effectively.  President Amy Gutmann recognizes that “the Smilow Center for Translational Research provides a state-of-the-art environment where eminent physicians, researchers and scientists at Penn Medicine will work side-by-side to advance medical science.”

In addition to the Smilow Center, the Smilow’s gift also establishes the William Smilow Professorship in the field of cardiovascular medicine and the William Smilow Award for Innovation in Clinical Excellence. The exact amount remains undisclosed.

For more information, click here to view the full release.

5.            New Medication Shows Promise as Lipid-Lowering Therapy for Rare Cholesterol Disorder, Penn Study Finds

Penn researchers reported in The Lancet that lomitapide, a first-in-class microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) inhibitor, substantially and stably reduced LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) in patients with the orphan disease homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH).  Lomitapide works by inhibiting MTP, which is required for the production of VLDL — the precursor to LDL.

A rendering of a Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (image courtesy of Wikipedia).

For more on homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and lomitapide, visit the full press release.

4.            The Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships 20th Anniversary

The Netter Centercelebrated its anniversary in November by hosting an international two-day conference examining perspectives on higher education, community development and community health partnerships.

The conference theme was “The Role of Higher Education-Community-School Partnerships in Creating Democratic Communities Locally, Nationally and Globally.”  It featured various thematic panels on such topics as education, poverty, health promotion, community engagement and university assisted community schools presented by university presidents, educators, administrators and professionals from across the country.

The event capped off its first night with keynote speaker Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers and former president of the United Federation of Teachers. Remarks throughout the conference were given by Dr. Rebecca Bushnell, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences; Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President; and Jeffrey Cooper, Vice President, Office of Government and Community Affairs.

To read more about Penn’s Netter Center, see the article in The Daily Pennsylvanian: Netter Center celebrates 20 years,

3.            Penn Medicine Receives NIH Grant to Help Local Residents Move Forward After Asbestos Exposure

The communities of West and South Ambler are working to recover from the ramifications of their town’s long-closed asbestos factory. Residents in these communities remain at risk of environmental exposure and a potentially increased risk of developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer which is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos.  Researchers at the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, have been awarded a $1.2 million grant to develop an educational program using the communities’ history of asbestos products manufacturing and resulting asbestos exposure. Funding for the program is provided by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), which is administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For more on the asbestos cleanup, read the Penn News press release.

2.            Two Penn Perelman Medical Center Leukemia Patients Remain in Remission after Receiving Genetically Engineered T-Cells

The clinical trial participants, all of whom had advanced cancers, included 10 adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and two children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Two of the first three patients treated with the protocol at HUP – whose cases were detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine in August 2011 – remain healthy and in full remissions more than two years after their treatment, with the engineered cells still circulating in their bodies. The findings reveal the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.

A bone marrow smear from a patient with precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. (image courtesy of Wikipedia).

“Our results show that chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells have great promise to improve the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma,” says the trial’s leader, Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of Translational Research in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. According to Dr. June, “It is possible that in the future, this approach may reduce or replace the need for bone marrow transplantation.”

For more details, please visit the following link.

1.            Penn Medicine Physicians Complete Their 1,000th Heart Transplant at HUP

The 1,000th patient received the transplant on Sunday, December 2, 2012 and is doing well. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the Penn Medicine heart transplant program, part of the Penn Transplant Institute’s multi-organ transplant center at HUP, has been at the forefront of medical care and clinical advances in the area of heart failure and heart transplantation, including offering multiple organ transplantation – such as heart-lung and heart-liver transplants.

The program performs more adult heart transplants per year than all other Philadelphia area hospitals combined, making it one of the top three heart transplantation programs in the nation.

For more information about this remarkable milestone, please see Penn Medicine’s full press release.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Casey R., Top Ten

How Sweet it Is: Sweeten’s Sweets

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Sweeten Alumni House is quite literally a sweet place to work. This holiday season we have been inundated with a plethora of brightly colored packages all bearing delicious temptations. My office is in a strategic location- right next to the copy machine and across from the second-floor counter where all the sweets eventually end up. Thanks to my close proximity, I have been able to document a week of Sweeten’s sweets.


President Amy Gutmann stays up late into the night to bake cookies for the entire campus. Just kidding, but it was awfully thoughtful of her to send these to us from Famous 4th Street Cookies.



Monday was off to a tasty start with holiday packages from vendors including a popcorn three-way, chocolate-covered pretzels, assorted chocolates, and Scottish shortbread cookies. It ended with even more sweets, when Sweeten hosted a baby shower complete with a chocolate/vanilla marble cake.




After staff slept off their sugar comas, it was back to work on Tuesday with homemade Christmas cookies from our own Liz Pinnie. Note the beautiful (and delicious) spritz cookies. And what would a day at Sweeten be without chocolaty, peanut-buttery goodness wrapped in colorful holiday foil? With a little help from our work study students, we devoured the entire basket of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups too.

2012-12-18_09-34-51_295 2012-12-18_10-26-16_363


Another delicious popcorn tin followed by a party for December birthdays. Lynn Carroll made cupcakes!




Thursday was the best treat of all. My little dog, Axl, came to visit in his holiday bandana. He loves visiting campus. Not only is there a lot of green space for him to romp, but there are tons of squirrels to chase. Axl spent his lunch break outside saying hello to passers-by and trying to chase Penn’s furry critters.



We are all at home with our friends and family, enjoying our own holiday treats and traditions, as I hope, were you. Happy holidays from all of us at Sweeten!

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Filed under Emilie, Squirrels, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia Volunteers at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Author: Stephanie Yee, C’08

The Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia recently volunteered at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. Established in 2007, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and serves as a national research and development center for detection dogs. I first learned about the Penn Vet Working Dog Center from Frankly Penn posts: here and here. I scheduled a group volunteer event for our club members and hoped others loved puppies as much as I do. Little did I know that Penn alumni in Philly LOVE puppies! Our volunteer event filled up in record time of half a day! Here are a few photos from our volunteer event.


Penn alumni playing with puppy Ohlin.

Specifically, we played “pass the puppy” with him.

Specifically, we played “pass the puppy” with him.


We also learned new training techniques with puppy Socks.

We also learned new training techniques with puppy Socks.

With the help of Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator, Pat Kaynaroglu, we got tips about how to help the puppies build their core muscles.

With the help of Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator, Pat Kaynaroglu, we got tips about how to help the puppies build their core muscles.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Clubs, Penn Vet, Penn Working Dog Center, Philadelphia, Stephanie Y.

A Longwood Gardens Holiday Wish

Author:  Rebecca Eckart, GEd’13

Happy holidays, everyone!  I hope you’re having a wonderful time with family and friends and are taking a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I’m back in my hometown celebrating the holidays with my family, but I wanted to share with you some of holiday cheer I experienced in Philadelphia and elsewhere during December.

In early December, International Student Affairs in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) organized a trip for GSE students to Longwood Gardens in Kenneth Square, PA.  I went with some of my classmates and was truly overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of the grounds, both outside and inside the conservatory.  In the conservatory, because of the history and architecture of the building, I felt as though I had stepped back in time to the Gilded Age or Progressive Era.  Pierre du Pont, the famous businessman who purchased the property in the early twentieth century and opened Longwood Gardens to the public, once entertained guests in the conservatory during the holiday season.  Many of the decorations in the building referenced that tradition.

Penn’s campus and downtown Philadelphia also displayed a lot of holiday cheer.  Below are just a few pictures for you to enjoy.

Best wishes to all of you for a happy and healthy New Year!

Longwood Gardens inside

Longwood Gardens outside

Longwood Gardens inside ii

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Filed under Rebecca E., Student Perspective

Mechatronics: A Class to Remember

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

I have taken a lot of classes at Penn to this point, but none of them have been like Mechatronics.  I have written about this class before, first before it started in “Junior Year is Here” and again in the middle of the “MEAMpocalypse 2012.”   Last Tuesday, the class came to an end, with our final project culminating in the public tournament of Robockey.  There was a nice Philly Inquirer article about that night.  Sadly, our team was on the losing end of the “bloodbath” described in the article, but by the end of the project our team had done pretty well, making it into the Champions bracket (top 10 out of 17 teams).  But what set this class apart was what I experienced when it was over.

Coming back into the Engineering Quad a few days later, I was confronted with the sight of an empty space where the practice rink had been for the past month.  And instantly, I was hit with a flood of emotion.  It then dawned on me how much of my life I had spent sitting around that rink, working on our robots.  And that event, which had been the majority of my life for such a long time, was finally gone.  Behind that space is the GM Lab, where we did the majority of the circuit work and fabrication of the robots, and I had the same emotional rush facing that room.  I had spent so much time there, and yet it was over.  It was like a piece of me had been torn out, a piece that I will never forget, but also a piece that will never be quite the same again.

But the emotional response did not end there.  For a few nights after the conclusion of the project, I had trouble getting to sleep, because my brain was thinking about Mechatronics.  I wanted to go back and keep working on Robockey.  Perhaps my brain was used to this behavior, as after long nights in the lab I would often think about roadblocks I had encountered as I dozed off to sleep, and managed to solve a large number of problems during those uninhibited thinking periods.  But now it was all for naught, as there was nothing more I could do to work on these robots.  There was no more rink, no more pucks, no more crowds and late nights.

Needless to say, no other class has ever made me feel this way before.  I have never put as much heart and soul into anything before, and now the fact that it has been taken away from me is painful.  I am sure that as I move forward with my Penn career, this hole will begin to heal.  I will look back on the class fondly, as even with its late nights and tough problems, this class made an impact on my life.  From now on, every time I pass the GM lab I will think of Mechatronics.  I have signed up to potentially be a TA for this course next year, and I am sure that if I am selected, I will experience these emotions again when the class starts up again next fall.  And next December, when the practice rink returns to its home outside the GM lab and teams start occupying it 24/7 again, I will be reminded of all the memories and all of the work I put in.  Mechatronics has changed me, and I am interested to see if any other class has that kind of power in the future.

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Filed under Jonathan C., Student Perspective

Spruce Street Plaza

Author: Kelly O’Connor

Check out Spruce Street Plaza between 33rd and 34th on Spruce Street. The old parking lot across from HUP that once housed food carts has been transformed into Penn’s latest public green space. A great new place to enjoy lunch or just get some fresh air.



Don’t worry, your favorite food carts are just across 33rd street by Franklin Field.

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Filed under Kelly P., Photos, Uncategorized

Holiday Wishes, Courtesy of Mac and Lilli

Author: Patrick Bredehoft

As we head into the holiday season, my wife Nancy (Penn Med, ’15) tends to get a little sentimental about our animals.

Mac, the cat, and Lilli, the dog, were both born in Turkey, and traveled back to America with my wife and me when we moved to Philadelphia three years ago.  In addition to being home to practicing Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Turkey is the home of Saint Nicholas, who is known today as Santa Claus.  A host of holidays are celebrated in Turkey: religious, cultural, and political.  As teachers at a small school outside of Istanbul, my wife and I introduced our students to some of our favorite holidays: Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas.  We also introduced them to the idea of keeping a dog and cat in our home (pets are far less common among most Turkish families).  Somewhere along the way, Mac and Lilli grew closer to one another, perhaps as a result of their own journeys halfway around the world.

Every holiday, Mac and Lilli remind us of an incredible range of experiences in a country we loved, even though it was very different from our own. They remind us that friendships emerge in unlikely places, and that love is a far more valuable occupation than judgment. They remind us of our families, both near and far, and of the innumerable blessings we enjoy.

May your holidays be wonderful, wherever they take you.  May you celebrate unlikely friendships.  May you be reminded of your blessings.


Mac (on the left) rules and Lilli (on the right) obeys.

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#TriviaTuesday from Penn Alumni

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

Penn Alumni has been posting #TriviaTuesday questions via our Twitter site once a week, every Tuesday, since mid-August. Many of the questions and photos are taken from the University Archives, a collection of digital archives made available through the Penn Libraries. We have had one consistent follower (@MikeyZ2) answer nearly all of the #TriviaTuesday correctly.  I have learned a lot about the University, trying to find interesting questions and researching the answers.

Here are a few of my favorite:





#TriviaTuesNovemberHarper's Weekly

If you have a knack for Trivia, or you just want to learn more about the University, keep an eye out for #TriviaTuesday on the Penn Alumni Twitter feed.  The one for this week was just posted and needs to be answered:

#TriviaTuesday December18

Split Button

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Why Do College Friendships Endure?

Author: Lynn Carroll, C’93

I’ve enjoyed getting to know alumni from the classes of the 1930s all the way through to recent graduates.  Mildred CW’44 had lunch with the same group of classmates every month for more than 50 years.  Dick C’59 comes to Penn every year to get out on the ice with his hockey teammates.  The “alumni song” at the end of a Bloomers show brings on more tears than an episode of “Parenthood.”  Much has changed about college—and Penn—in the past century, but one thing is universal:  college friendships that stand the test of time.

Why are these friendships so intense and enduring?  What makes that person we sit next to in Psych 101 so important to our lives, whereas a decade later, coworkers of 5 years or more are mere acquaintances?

Some various theories – feel free to weigh in with your opinions!

–          While at college, we become who we are; those who share the journey with us earn a special place in our hearts

–          From age 18-22 we are open to new ways of looking at the world, and therefore more likely to be “imprinted” by those around us, similar to infant birds

–          As we grow older, we are more guarded and cautious in our relationships, and are unwilling to allow others to see us as vulnerable

Do you still have friends from your days at Penn, and do you expect they’ll remain your friends for your lifetime?  Give them a shout out in the comments, and then forward a link to this blog their way.  They’ll probably do the same for you in 25 years or so.penn-best-friend-button


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lynn Carroll