Penn Cancer Research Called “Newest Miracle Cure”

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In case you’ve missed it, Philly docs have scored some big headlines recently. After nearly thirty years in development at the University of Pennsylvania, a novel cancer treatment that many are calling the most promising yet could be just weeks away from hitting the market.

Back in July, the gene therapy known as CAR T, named for the chimeric antigen receptor T-cells it utilizes, was unanimously recommended for approval by an FDA advisory committee. The recommendation is as close to a predictor of approval as a treatment can get. The long path of immunotherapy research and trials – headed by Dr. Carl June – that led to the submission for FDA approval was recently chronicled in a Time feature titled “Inside Cancer’s Newest Miracle Cure.” After years of trials with an erratic range of results, June’s major breakthrough came when he identified a biological marker unique to cancerous leukemia cells that allowed him to tweak his treatment to make it a little more targeted. Read more »

Penn Unveils Plans for $1.5 Billion “Hospital of the Future”

Penn Hospital's Pavilion. Rendering courtesy of Penn Hospital.

Penn Hospital’s Pavilion. Rendering courtesy of Penn Hospital.

In 2021, Philadelphia’s hospital landscape will look dramatically different with the introduction of a brand new hospital. The University of Pennsylvania announced on Wednesday plans to erect “The Pavilion,” a $1.5 billion hospital on Penn Medicine’s West Philadelphia campus.

Penn says the ambitious project, the most expensive development in its history, is a bold response to impending health care challenges lurking in the future.

“This is the hospital that will define America’s best medicine for generations to come,” said Penn president Amy Gutmann. “This building will be transformational, serving as the flagship facility for Penn Medicine and setting a new standard for modern health care delivery across the nation.”

And just how will the hospital live up to Gutmann’s tall order?  Read more »

Penn’s New Combined Medical-Law Degree Perfect for Overachievers

R: Courtesy Hazmat2 via Wikimedia Commons

R: Courtesy Hazmat2 via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Pennsylvania is creating a program that will allow students to pursue both law and medicine — at the same time.

Through the joint degree program, students can attain a juris doctorate degree from Penn’s law school and a doctorate of medicine from the Perelmen School of Medicine.

Because is studying at just one top-rated school really good enough? Why not just do both?  Read more »

Penn Study: Painkiller Prescriptions on the Rise

iStockphoto.com | DanielAzocar

iStockphoto.com | DanielAzocar

Are prescription painkillers playing a role in increasing rates of addiction and overdose from prescription opioid painkillers? A study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at Penn Medicine doesn’t go as far to say doctors’ pain treatment methods are the cause, but shows they have become much more lenient in recent years with prescribing opioid medications — both in larger doses and more frequently — after low-risk surgeries.

“I think much of this pattern probably derives from good intentions, says Mark Neuman, senior author of the Penn Medicine study. “It also reflects the fact that there are only so many options for patients who have pain.” The researchers say more work is needed to see how pain prescriptions plays into the addiction and overdose epidemic. Read more »

New Penn Medicine Video Provides Incredible, Personal Look at Post-Mastectomy Nipple Tattoos

I’ve heard about hospitals that employ tattoo artists as part of their reconstructive teams for women who undergo mastectomy procedures, but until today, I’d never actually seen one of them in action. Last week, Penn Medicine released a super powerful video, in which one patient, named Emily, allows her nipple-tattoo session to be documented by a film crew.  Read more »

DreamIt was Second-Most Active Health Care Investor in 2015

At a recent Dreamit health demo day, Saurabh Radhakrishnan introduces us to GraphWear, a smart sweat patch.

At a recent Dreamit health demo day, Saurabh Radhakrishnan introduces us to GraphWear, a smart sweat patch.

Whether it’s a mouthpiece that detects concussions, pill bottles that blink when it’s time for patients to take medicines or wearables that track diseases, health care technology is an exploding industry — and Philadelphia is at the center of it all.

In fact, Philly’s Dreamit Ventures (through its offshoot Dreamit Health) was the second-most active health care investor in 2015, according to new research from CB Insights. (No. 1 was the highly touted Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator, Y Combinator.) DreamIt and Y Combinator were the only investors to finance more than 10 unique digital health companies this past year — with DreamIt making deals with companies like Redox, Oncora Medical and CareCierge.

For 2016, Dreamit has $1 million earmarked for investments in health care tech. To date, Dreamit has invested more than $3.1 million in health care companies that have participated in its program and those companies have raised nearly $12.3 million in additional capital, the company reported. Read more »

Penn Study: Mustaches More Common Than Women in Top Medical Leadership Posts

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Shutterstock.com

You probably could’ve guessed — if asked — that there are more men than women leading the nation’s top academic medical institutions in America. But would you have guessed there are more mustaches than women in the ranks?

There are, according to a study co-authored by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and published at The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal.

“The lack of women in leadership roles in medicine is well-documented,” Dr. Mackenzie Wehner, a dermatology resident physician at Penn Medicine said in a statement. “But despite the eccentricities of the study, our results show that even when you focus solely on men with mustaches — which are rare — women are still outnumbered across various specialties.” Read more »

Penn Study: Paying Patients, Doctors Leads to Lower Cholesterol

(Irenaphoto/Shutterstock )

(Irenaphoto/Shutterstock )

What’s the best way to lower people’s cholesterol? Offer financial rewards to both patients and doctors when people take their allotted medications at the appropriate times. That was the main finding from a recently published University of Pennsylvania-led study.

It’s easy to understand why a financial reward gives patients incentives to take their medicine (typically statins like Lipitor). But why pay doctors too? Read more »

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