Featured Research Stories

Recent articles from the science writers of Penn Today

‘Nanozyme’ therapy prevents harmful dental plaque buildup

An iron-oxide nanoparticle that is FDA-approved to treat anemia acts as an enzyme to activate hydrogen peroxide to suppress the growth of tooth-decay-causing biofilms in the human mouth, according to a study led by the School of Dental Medicine.

–Published 2021-10-25

Novel gene therapy platform speeds search for ways to cure blindness

A newly developed single-cell RNA sequencing technique enables researchers to quickly identify an optimal vector for delivering therapeutic genetic material to treat vision disorders, and perhaps other genetic conditions.

–Published 2021-10-19

Eight Penn researchers receive 2021 NIH Director’s Awards

The National Institutes of Health grants, totaling more than $8 million, will support seven high-risk, high-reward research projects.

–Published 2021-10-13

Improved fluorescent amino acids for cellular imaging

New research describes how to insert synthetic fluorescent amino acids into proteins in living cells, with implications for the study of neurological diseases.

–Published 2021-10-12

New mathematical tools to study opinion dynamics

Using a class of network structures known as discourse sheaves, researchers describe a new, flexible framework for studying how opinions change over social networks.

–Published 2021-10-05

Penn Medicine and Wistar awarded $11.7 million melanoma research grant

The Specialized Programs of Research Excellence, or SPORE, grant from the National Cancer Institute will fund three new melanoma research projects over five years.

–Published 2021-09-29

Engineering CAR T cells to activate a bodily response to solid tumors

A new Penn study shows that CAR T cells expressing RN7SL1, a naturally occurring RNA, can activate the body’s natural immune cells against difficult-to-treat cancers.

–Published 2021-09-14

2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences awarded to mRNA pioneers Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó

Weissman and Karikó are honored for engineering modified RNA technology which enabled rapid development of effective COVID-19 vaccines.

–Published 2021-09-09

Smart dental implants

Geelsu Hwang of the School of Dental Medicine and colleagues are developing a smart dental implant that resists bacterial growth and generates its own electricity through chewing and brushing to power a tissue-rejuvenating light.

–Published 2021-09-09

Versatile ‘chemoproteomic probes’ for activity-based protein profiling

A new study uses organohydrazine probes to map chemical reactivty across the proteome, allowing for a diverse classes of proteins and biological pathways to be studied.

–Published 2021-09-08

Interact, adapt, repeat

Sophomores Linda Wu and Nova Meng spent the summer studying coevolution among plants, mutualistic bacteria, and parasitic nematodes in Corlett Wood’s biology lab.

–Published 2021-08-26

Evolutionary ‘arms race’ may help keep cell division honest

Research from the lab of Michael Lampson in the School of Arts & Sciences suggests that certain proteins may have evolved to reduce the likelihood of chromosomes “cheating” to bias their chance of winding up in an egg during the cell-division process meiosis.

–Published 2021-08-24

COVID-19 mRNA vaccine that uses fundamental Penn technology receives FDA approval

Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine to prevent COVID-19 uses fundamental modified mRNA technology created by Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó at the Perelman School of Medicine.

–Published 2021-08-24

How schools of ‘microswimmers’ can increase their cargo capacity

Penn researchers describe how groups of microscopic, self-propelled droplets can transport more material through narrow channels using a process called collective hydrodynamic entrainment.

–Published 2021-08-20

‘Of the moment’

This year alone four museums and two galleries are featuring work by artist David Hartt of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, including currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

–Published 2021-08-18

Patient preferences do not explain racial disparities in opioid prescribing

Black patients are less likely to get opioids for acute pain.

–Published 2021-08-18

More than a third of Congressional members held significant health care assets

Due to their role in shaping health care policy, lawmakers should divest from assets while in office, Penn Medicine researchers recommend.

–Published 2021-08-18

A visual archive of an iconic American boulevard

A trio of undergraduate students worked this summer with Professor Francesca Ammon to catalog and organize photographs for the digital humanities project ‘Sunset over Sunset.’

–Published 2021-08-17

The story of immigration enforcement

In an award-winning paper, criminologist Aaron Chalfin examines the public safety implications of labor market-based immigration enforcement.

–Published 2021-08-17

Penn study details robust T-cell response to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

The results underline the importance of a second dose and include implications for booster shots.

–Published 2021-08-17

Assessing the effectiveness of international organizations

Four PURM interns, led by Julia Gray, spent the summer researching the activity and effectiveness of international organizations.

–Published 2021-08-16

Penn researchers unlock genetic ‘treasure map’ for chronic kidney disease

The genome-wide association study pinpoints new target genes, cell types, and mechanisms for treating the disease that affects 850 people million worldwide.

–Published 2021-08-16

Is deflection a good business tactic?

Wharton’s Maurice Schweitzer is the co-author of the first study to examine the costs and benefits of answering a question with a question.

–Published 2021-08-16

Engineers create faster and cheaper COVID-19 testing with pencil lead

A new electrochemical COVID-19 test addresses the challenges of cost, time, and accuracy and uses electrodes made from graphite.

–Published 2021-08-13

Improving patient experiences in cancer clinical trials

Cancer clinical trials (CCTs) provide patients an opportunity to receive experimental drugs, tests, and/or procedures that can lead to remissions. For some, a CCT may seem like their only option. Yet little is known about the experiences of patient participants who withdraw from CCTs.

–Published 2021-08-13

In a California district, Latinx students with Latinx teachers attend more school

While the teaching workforce continues to be heavily dominated by white teachers, in particular white women, the academic and social-emotional benefits for students of color of having a teacher who is their same race have been widely documented. Less studied is the impact that having a same-race teacher has on attendance.

–Published 2021-08-12

COVID-19, protests, and crime

During a summer internship with the Law School’s David Abrams, rising sophomores Caroline Li and David Feng looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic and last summer’s racial justice protests affected America’s crime rate. 

–Published 2021-08-12

African American in the ‘raceless’ Soviet Union

History Ph.D. candidate Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon’s work looks at how the African American experience in the Soviet Union shaped Black identity and how the presence of people of color shaped Soviet understandings of race.

–Published 2021-08-09

Packaging-free design quadruples microbatteries’ energy density

New research from the School of Engineering and Applied Science shows a new way to build and package microbatteries that maximizes energy density even at the smallest sizes.

–Published 2021-08-09

Zachary Lesser’s Shakespearean forensics

The Edward W. Kane Professor of English uses ghosts, holes, and scrapes to learn more about how Shakespeare’s work was seen in his own time.

–Published 2021-08-06


University Research Foundation grant applications are now open. The deadline is October 22, 2021.

Now accepting applications for the Penn Provost's Postdoctoral Fellowships. The deadline is November 15, 2021.


Fall is flying by! Applications for the Penn Provost's Postdoctoral Fellowship are due Nov 15! Learn more about th… t.co/OBLaPOTakV

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Make a bigger difference with your giving through CHIP's High Impact Philanthropy Academy while learning how philan… t.co/LUbEvqcBw8

New study by Lola Fayanju (@DrLolaFayanju) finds the proportion of URiM surgical faculty unchanged over the past de… t.co/b32C6ah8oZ

"The Build Back Better Act is significant legislation that proposes to invest in #HBCUs, and reflects this Administ… t.co/LPe0BOYwAn

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