March 1, 2016

Penn Medicine Cardiologist Receives Nation's Most Prestigious Early-Career Award for Scientists

Presidential Award to Support Research in Human Genetics for Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases

PHILADELPHIA — Kiran Musunuru, MD, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Genetics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been honored with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding early-career scientists and engineers, recognizes Musunuru's outstanding achievements in research on the genetic factors behind heart attack, sudden cardiac death, and other cardiovascular disorders. Musunuru officially joined Penn this month from a faculty position at Harvard University.

The Presidential Award Program was created to honor young scientists and engineers who, in their early research careers, exemplify exceptional potential in the field. Musunuru received up to a five-year research grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health to support his focus of analyzing the genetics behind cardiovascular and metabolic diseases by using human models – genetically modified human pluripotent stem cells and stem-cell-derived tissues – and "humanized" mouse models to study genetic variations. The program aims to foster innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, increase awareness of careers in science and enhance connections between biomedical research and national goals, and highlight the importance of science and technology for the nation's future. Just 105 young investigators are recipients of this year's awards.

"Dr. Musunuru is an outstanding young physician scientist and we are extremely pleased that he has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers," said Ahmed A.K. Hasan, MD, PhD, FACC, a medical officer and program director in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at NHLBI. "His cutting edge research is highly important for the public health, as coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the world today."

Musunuru's research focuses on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, through the discovery of novel genetic variants associated with diseases and their risk factors; understanding how these genetic variants influence gene function; characterizing the implicated genes and their effects on diseases; and using these insights to initiate the development of novel therapeutics to treat and prevent these diseases. Musunuru has pioneered the use of genome-editing tools in human pluripotent stem cells for the purpose of disease modeling.

In tandem with his biomedical research, he is an actively practicing cardiologist as well as a committed teacher. Musunuru received his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College, his PhD degree from The Rockefeller University, and his MPH degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and cardiovascular medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, followed by postdoctoral work at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.


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