PHILADELPHIA — Frances E. Jensen, MD, has been named Chair of the Department of Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She comes to Penn Medicine from Boston, where she is currently Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and a senior neurologist at both Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital, Boston. Starting August 13, Jensen will become the 11th chair to lead Penn's Department of Neurology, the oldest neurology department in the United States, founded by Dr. Horatio Wood in 1871.
"I am confident that Dr. Jensen, with her range of research strengths, teaching skills, and clinical dedication, is the perfect person to lead the Department into the future and help to shape our many initiatives in neuroscience," said J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine and executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System. "Dr. Jensen is a dedicated and inspiring teacher and mentor, and is highly regarded for her translational research and studies of the age-specific mechanisms of diseases of the brain across the lifespan."
Dr. Jensen's research has focused on investigating pathophysiological mechanisms of epilepsy as well as secondary effects on synaptic plasticity. She has been exploring age-dependent differences in such mechanisms, with special attention to the interactions among brain development, excitotoxic brain injury, epilepsy, and cognition.
Most recently, supported by a five-year Director's Pioneer Award from the (NIH), Dr. Jensen has been investigating connections between epilepsy and autism, examining how seizures in early life alter neuronal networks in the developing brain to cause cognitive disorders such as learning deficits, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and autism. As she told Nature Medicine last year, "We are finding connections between previously assumed unrelated disorders that we could never have imagined."
Dr. Jensen is the sponsor of an FDA-approved Investigational New Drug (IND) for a continuing multi-center clinical trial of a novel therapy for neonatal seizures, based on basic research in her laboratory.
After graduating cum laude from Smith College with an A.B. degree in neuropsychology, Dr. Jensen received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. She took her residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and was Chief Resident in neurology at The Harvard Longwood Neurology Training Program. Dr. Jensen was also a clinical fellow and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School. She became an Assistant Professor of Neurology in 1992, Associate Professor in 1998, and Professor in 2007.
She serves as Director of Translational Neuroscience at Children's Hospital and is a senior neurologist at both Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital. She is also active in education and mentoring programs related to translational medicine at the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center.
Dr. Jensen is the author of more than 100 manuscripts. She 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. In addition to the Director's Pioneer Award, NIH has awarded her a Physician Scientist Award and a First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) Award. Dr. Jensen is a Council Member of the Society for Neuroscience and is currently serving as President of the American Epilepsy Society. She also served as Chair of the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting Committee and Council on Education and oversaw the successful process of accreditation by the ACCME (Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education). In 2008, she received the American Epilepsy Society Research Recognition Award for Basic Science. She has served on multiple review and council positions in private foundations and National Institutes of Health. Dr. Jensen has also been active in community service and media: she has been a visiting teacher at local schools and has been an expert commentator on such programs as The Today Show, 60 Minutes, National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and Good Morning America.