From the time ENIAC, the world’s first computer, was developed and introduced on campus in 1946, Penn Engineering has continued a tradition of leadership and cutting-edge research in fields including autonomous robots, computer vision, cybersecurity, embedded systems and IoT, mechanobiology and the physics of cancer, metamaterials, network neuroscience, photonic computing, privacy algorithms, self-assembling nanomaterials, and tribology. These initiatives have only been boosted in recent years with new facilities including the Singh Center for Nanotechnology.
Across campus, new interdisciplinary hubs for innovation have been strategically created, including the Smilow Center for Translational Research, Wharton Academic Research Building, the Center for Health Care Innovation, and the soon-to-open New Patient Pavilion and Vagelos Energy Building. In addition, under Dr. Gutmann’s guidance, innovation programs that touch on a variety of disciplines, spanning the likes of the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research and the Mack Institute for Innovation Management to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, have been able to flourish.
In the health sciences, the Perelman School of Medicine offers a flexible MD curriculum allowing students to participate in dual-degree programs, including the MD/PhD and MD/JD along with several master’s programs. In 2021, 66% of the 156 Penn Medicine graduates pursued more than just the MD Degree, including 64 students who earned a total of 76 certificates in addition to the dual degree students. Among these programs is the NIH-funded MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program, which was one of the first of its kind and is the largest in the country, with 217 students. An unusually high percentage of these students—nearly 20 percent—earn their PhDs outside of the biological sciences, reflecting Penn’s strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and the MD/PhD program’s embrace of the One University concept.
Penn Medicine’s foundational connectivity among research, clinical trials, and patient care established Penn as a pioneer of translational medicine, a title that rings true today. Penn Medicine’s groundbreaking research has resulted in 13 FDA approvals for new treatments including the first personalized cellular therapy for cancer, and Penn researchers and clinicians have propelled advances in testing, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19 that has helped to give hope to billions of people worldwide during the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, Perelman School of Medicine researchers developed the mRNA vaccine technology that is a critical component of Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, which are being deployed globally in the fight against the virus.