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  • Writer's picturePam King Sams

National Academy of Sciences add three new members from Penn Medicine faculty.

Penn’s Cell and Developmental Biology department now has five NAS members—all of whom are women

Three faculty members at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, including two in Cell and Developmental Biology, have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a private, nonprofit institution established under congressional charter that recognizes achievement in science by election to membership.

With the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine, NAS provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

This year’s Penn Medicine inductees were elected among 120 new members nationally in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Of those, 59 are women, the most elected in a single year.

Penn Medicine’s inductees include M. Celeste Simon, PhD, the Arthur H. Rubenstein, MBBCh Professor in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the scientific director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute;

Marisa S. Bartolomei, PhD, the Perelman Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology and co-Director of the Epigenetics Institute.

In all, 18 Perelman School of Medicine faculty are members of the NAS. With this year’s inductees, Penn's department of Cell and Developmental Biology holds the additional distinction of now having five members of NAS, all women.

The additional NAS members in Penn’s department of Cell and Developmental Biology are:

  • Nancy A. Speck, PhD, Chair and Professor

  • Shelley L. Berger, PhD, Daniel S. Och University Professor and co-director of the Penn Epigenetics Institute

  • Clara Franzini-Armstrong, PhD, Emeritus Professor

Simon and her lab research the metabolism of cancer cells, tumor immunology, metastasis, and how healthy cells and cancer cells respond to a lack of oxygen and nutrients.

Her work uses both animal models and cancer patient samples, and her goal is to create techniques to treat various tumors like kidney cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, liver cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

Simon was the recipient of a National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award in 2017, and she has authored over 275 articles in journals like Cell, Science, Nature, Cancer Discovery, Nature Genetics, and Cancer Cell.

Crossing into the disciplines of cell and molecular biology, pharmacology, and neuroscience, Bartolomei and her lab investigate genomic imprinting in mice. Specifically, they focus on the H19 gene which is only expressed in maternal alleles, in order to better uncover the mechanisms behind imprinting and the effects of the environment, assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and endocrine disruptors.

Her lab also looks into the molecular and genetic systems behind X inactivation in mice. Her research has been published widely in journals including Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Development, and PLoS Genetics.

Katherine A. High, MD, an emeritus professor of Pediatrics who is now president, Therapeutics, forAskBio, was also elected to NAS this year.

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