May 20, 2005

Nicole A. Gaddis
(215) 349-5657


Craig B. Thompson, MD, Elected to National Academy of Sciences

(Philadelphia, PA) – Craig B. Thompson, MD, Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Scientific Director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at Penn, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition for his significant research accomplishments. Thompson is among 72 researchers elected this year from throughout the world, and the only one from Philadelphia.

“Craig Thompson is admired far and wide as one of the nation’s most accomplished medical investigators, and our institution congratulates him on this most exceptional honor,” says Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean, School of Medicine. “His research in cancer biology is helping to build a strong foundation in basic science that we expect will be translated into significant treatments for patients.”

Thompson's laboratory has pioneered the study of the Bcl-2 family of oncogenes, or cancer-causing genes, and their role in regulating cell survival and apoptosis. All cells in the human body can initiate their own death, through a process called apoptosis, when they become damaged or when they do not get enough nutrients; this prevents the body from accumulating excess or unwanted cells. Cancer cells accumulate when cells lose their ability to undergo apoptosis. A better understanding of how apoptosis is regulated may lead to preventive treatments for individuals predisposed to cancer, as well as treatments that could block the ability of cancer cells to survive, and thus limit tumor size and prevent the cancer from spreading.

Thompson also serves as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Thompson received the 2003 Clinical Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation for his pioneering work on the critical role that receptors on the surfaces of T-cells play in regulating complicated immune-cell functions. He has also received the Mosby Book Award, the Merck Award, and the Medical Science Award of Alpha Omega Alpha.

After undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College and graduate training at Dartmouth Medical School, Thompson received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977. He served his internship and residency in internal medicine at Harvard's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and was senior resident at Boston's University Hospital. He also took a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.


PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality 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 #3 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 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.

Penn Health System is comprised of: its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.

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