Featured Research Stories

Recent articles from the science writers of Penn Today

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

In rural America, religious attendance reduces compassion regarding opioids

Rural areas—particularly those in Appalachian and Midwestern states—are hard hit by the opioid epidemic. However, many individuals in those same states do not support policies scientifically proven to help, like medically aided treatment and syringe exchanges.

–Published 2021-08-06

Women are undercited and men are overcited in communication

An analysis of citations in 14 communication journals found that men are overcited and women are undercited, especially in papers authored by men.

–Published 2021-08-05

Identifying an elusive molecule key to combustion chemistry

Researchers made the most direct observation of a key intermediate formed during the breakdown of hydrocarbons during combustion and in the atmosphere, results that could help in the future design of fuels that burn more efficiently.

–Published 2021-08-05

How racial bias can limit internet access for people of color

A new study finds that the quality-of-life policing is used by powerful institutions and privileged people to keep those with less privilege, including people of color, from accessing resources like the internet.

–Published 2021-08-04

Remote learning affected high schoolers’ social, emotional health

Research from Angela Duckworth and colleagues found that teenagers who attended school virtually fared worse than classmates who went in person, results that held even when accounting for variables like gender, race, and socioeconomic status.

–Published 2021-08-04

Tracking the earliest steps in parasite infection

The parasite Cryptosporidium, a leading global cause of diarrheal diseases in children, injects host cells with a cocktail of proteins. Using powerful video microscopy, School of Veterinary Medicine researchers tracked the process in real time.

–Published 2021-08-03


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

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


Applications are now open for the Penn Provost's Postdoctoral Fellowship! Learn more about the program and how to… t.co/M3ekAyessA

This great new events calendar for postdocs, PhD's and the Penn community focuses primarily on campus talks & lectu… t.co/9frEoa6F52

Penn’s leadership in research continues with four Perelman School of Medicine young investigators receiving nationa… t.co/XWhAku8hmY

Load More


Congrats to @hairtelligence and @staykasa on representing @Wharton in this year's B-School Disrupt in SF! Watch the… t.co/52kqOMa2ZJ

One of the most powerful ways to create social impact is to improve the lives of women and girls. But how can you k… t.co/jakmlQsNlO

TOMORROW at 12:30 ET join Daniel Greene (@greene_dm) virtually as he presents the @cdcspenn Colloquium “The Promise… t.co/4jSz1MnQSy

A Midwest utility is trying out a new tool to manage variability on the grid as more renewables come online: mining… t.co/EumwvbJz1T

Registration is live for "Black Lives and Freedom Journeys: The Legacies of the Still Family of Philadelphia" Oct 7… t.co/IGDBEE1PXL

In a Q&A, @Penn student Xiye Bastida describes how she’s bringing climate activism to her college experience, how h… t.co/8bX9sEK4BR

"I hope that this award will help shed a light on the ways that we can build and rebuild communities of opportunity… t.co/KtZsl0XWSs

Load More