Featured Research Stories

Recent articles from the science writers of Penn Today

From Buddhist temples to Penn Libraries

Rebecca Mendelson is wrapping up her first academic year in person in her new role managing the Libraries’ Japanese and Korean Collections.

–Published 2022-05-24

Genomic differences selected through evolution may offer clues as to why COVID-19 outcomes vary widely

A team from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed genomic data from global populations, including thousands of ethnically diverse Africans, to identify genetic variants that may be associated with clinical COVID-19 outcomes.

–Published 2022-05-19

Elucidating the developmental origin of life-sustaining adrenal glands

Research led by the School of Veterinary Medicine reveals that adrenal development proceeds differently in humans than it does in mice.

–Published 2022-05-19

Making chemical separation more eco-friendly with nanotechnology

Chemical separation processes are essential to manufacturing, but also consume high levels of energy. Penn Engineers are developing new membranes for energy-efficient membrane-based separations on a nanoscale level.

–Published 2022-05-06

With plants as a model, studying the ‘complexity and reproducibility’ of developmental biology

In his first year at Penn, biologist Aman Husbands is busy working on projects aimed at illuminating the molecular mechanisms that govern plant development.

–Published 2022-05-06

Moving away from ‘average,’ toward the individual

In a course from Annenberg’s David Lydon-Staley, seven graduate students conducted single-participant experiments. This approach, what’s known as an “n of 1,” may better capture the nuances of a diverse population than randomized control trials can.

–Published 2022-05-03

What can browser history inadvertently reveal about a person’s health?

The Penn-CMU Digital Health Privacy Initiative is trying to answer that question by mapping third-party tracking across the online health ecosystem. Their work shows possible implications for ad targeting, credit scores, insurance coverage, and more.

–Published 2022-04-29

‘Keto’ molecule may be useful in preventing and treating colorectal cancer

A Penn study finds beta-hydroxybutyrate, an alternative-energy molecule produced by the body in response to starvation or low-carb diets, strongly suppresses the growth of colorectal tumors.

–Published 2022-04-29

Six from Penn elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022

Faculty from the Perelman School of Medicine, School of Arts & Sciences, Graduate School of Education, and Law School join more 260 honorees recognized for contributions to academia, the arts, industry, public policy, and research.

–Published 2022-04-28

In the Galápagos, training community scientists to monitor water quality

Both dense human populations and a plethora of wildlife can pose a challenge to marine and public health in the Galápagos Islands. With portable, user-friendly PCR technology, Penn faculty and students are training local scientists and school children to perform water quality research.

–Published 2022-04-28

How one inflammatory disorder exacerbates another

Researchers from the School of Dental Medicine and colleagues from Dresden, Germany demonstrate that an association between conditions such as severe gum disease and arthritis is traceable to the bone marrow.

–Published 2022-04-27

Regulating the regulators of the immune system

Research led by School of Veterinary Medicine scientists reveals a new layer of complexity with which the immune system finds a balance between controlling pathogens and protecting healthy tissue.

–Published 2022-04-18

Revising the lifecycle of an important human parasite

Researchers from Boris Striepen’s lab in the School of Veterinary Medicine tracked Cryptosporidium in real time, creating a new paradigm for how the widespread parasite reproduces in a host.

–Published 2022-04-14

Social connections influence brain structure of rhesus macaques

Researchers from Penn, Inserm, and elsewhere observed that the number of grooming partners an individual animal had predicted the size of brain areas associated with social decision-making and empathy.

–Published 2022-04-13

People imitate accent features they expect to hear, even without hearing them

Research from postdoc Lacey Wade confirmed this idea, what she calls expectation-driven convergence, in a controlled experiment for the first time. The work reveals just how much the subconscious factors into the way people speak.

–Published 2022-04-05

Researchers find topological phenomena at high technologically relevant frequencies

A collaborative new study led by researchers in the School of Arts & Sciences demonstrates topological control capabilities in an acoustic system, with implications for applications such as 5G communications and quantum information processing.

–Published 2022-03-28

Correcting night blindness in dogs

Researchers in the School of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues have developed a gene therapy that restores dim-light vision in dogs with a congenital form of night blindness, offering hope for treating a similar condition in people.

–Published 2022-03-22

From a pandemic, scientific insights poised to impact more than just COVID-19

Pivoting to study SARS-CoV-2, many scientists on campus have launched new research projects that address the challenges of the pandemic but also prepare us to confront future challenges.

–Published 2022-03-18

Rapid adaptation in fruit flies

New findings from School of Arts & Sciences biologists show that evolution—normally considered to be a gradual process—can occur in a matter of weeks in fruit flies in response to natural environmental change.

–Published 2022-03-17

Newly identified softshell turtle lived alongside T. rex and Triceratops

Peter Dodson of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Steven Jasinski, who recently earned his doctorate from the School of Arts & Sciences, describe the find of a new softshell turtle from the end of the Cretaceous Period.

–Published 2022-03-11

Wharton hosts 8th annual Diversity Case Competition

Wharton’s annual Diversity Case Competition focused on solving problems at the intersection of environmental sustainability and issues relevant to Indigenous communities.

–Published 2022-03-07

One alcoholic drink a day linked with reduced brain size

The Penn-led research, using a dataset of more than 36,000 adults, revealed that going from one to two drinks a day was associated with changes in the brain equivalent to aging two years. Heavier drinking was linked with an even greater toll.

–Published 2022-03-04

Interaction with lung cells transforms asbestos particles

To better understand what happens once asbestos enters a human body, researchers in the School of Arts & Sciences took a nanoscale look at the mineral.

–Published 2022-02-24

How to design a sail that won’t tear or melt on an interstellar voyage

The Breakthrough Starshot Initiative’s laser-based approach requires rethinking a sail’s shape and composition so it won’t melt or tear during acceleration and pushed by wind, not light.

–Published 2022-02-17

Uncovering unexpected properties in a complex quantum material

Using a novel technique developed at Penn, researchers gained new insights into the properties of a proposed excitonic insulator known as Ta2NiSe5, with implications for future quantum devices.

–Published 2022-02-16

A serendipitous finding lends new insight into how atopic dermatitis develops

Research from the School of Dental Medicine, the Perelman School of Medicine, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory reveals a mechanism behind the inflammation that is a feature of the common skin disease.

–Published 2022-02-11

Context-dependent behavior can make cooperation flourish

Recent studies led by School of Arts & Sciences’ researchers show that changing social strategies between settings—for example, cooperating at home but not at work—can in fact lead to more cooperative behavior in a society.

–Published 2022-02-09

New antiviral drug combination is highly effective against SARS-CoV-2

A Penn Medicine study finds that combining remdesivir or molnupiravir with the experimental drug brequinar blocked the replication of the virus that causes COVID-19 in lung cells.

–Published 2022-02-08

Why are alcohol- and drug-related deaths rising in the U.S. and not elsewhere?

With insights from anthropology and neuroscience, Penn researchers Michael Platt and Peter Sterling find that, in comparison, 16 other wealthy nations offer communal assistance at every life stage, support that protects individuals and families long term.

–Published 2022-02-02

Decade-long remission after CAR T cell therapy

Two patients represent longest-known CAR T cell response to date, providing insight into treatment effect and outcomes.

–Published 2022-02-02


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