July 26, 2007

CONTACT: Olivia Fermano
(215) 349-5653

Penn Abramson Cancer Center Researcher Caryn Lerman, PhD,
Receives 2007 Alton Ochsner Award

(PHILADELPHIA) — Caryn Lerman, PhD, Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the 22nd Annual Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Health. 

The award will be presented to Lerman, for her work on pharmacogenetic approaches to nicotine dependence treatment, at the annual convention of the American College of Chest Physicians on October 21, 2007, in Chicago.

Lerman is the Mary W. Calkins Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Annenberg School for Communication.  She is also Director of the NIH-funded Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania which translates research in neuroscience, pharmacology, and genetics to develop pharmacological therapies for nicotine dependence. In human behavioral pharmacology studies, Lerman’s laboratory studies the effects of different medications and novel compounds on nicotine’s reinforcing effects and nicotine abstinence symptoms. Recently, she and her colleagues discovered that variation in genes in the brain’s dopamine reward pathway and in the endogenous opioid system influence how smokers respond to medications for nicotine dependence. Such research will help create targeted treatments for people to successfully quit smoking with a reduced chance of relapse.

Penn’s Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center links with Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, the Annenberg School for Communication, and the Abramson Cancer Center. Through these collaborations, Lerman and her colleagues hope to increase the likelihood that emerging scientific findings are translated into practice to reduce morbidity and mortality from tobacco use.

Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) members currently hold over $145 million in grant funding. The ACC ranks fifth in funding from the National Cancer Institute and fourth in American Cancer Society funding.  Areas of research excellence at the ACC include:  basic and translational research, breast cancer, melanoma, hematologic malignancies/bone marrow transplantation, innovative clinical trials (200 active ongoing trials), developmental therapeutics, and cancer prevention and survivorship.

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The Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) of the University of Pennsylvania is a national leader in cancer research, patient care, and education. The pre-eminent position of the Cancer Center is reflected in its continuous designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute for 30 years, one of 39 such Centers in the United States. The ACC is dedicated to innovative and compassionate cancer care. The clinical program, comprised of a dedicated staff of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, nutritionists and patient care coordinators, currently sees over 50,000 outpatient visits, 3400 inpatient admissions, and provides over 24,000 chemotherapy treatments, and more than 65,000 radiation treatments. Not only is the ACC dedicated to providing state-of-the-art cancer care, the latest forms of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are available to our patients through clinical themes that developed in the relentless pursuit to eliminate the pain and suffering from cancer. In addition, the ACC is home to the 300 research scientists who work relentlessly to determine the pathogenesis of cancer. Together, the faculty is committed to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals, all of which have received numerous national patient-care honors [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

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