Joseph Jilka is in the business of innovation. As Penn State College of Medicine’s newest associate dean for research innovation and director of the Office of Technology Development, his focus is helping faculty bring new technologies from their research labs to the marketplace.
Since joining Penn State Hershey in March, Jilka has been impressed with the culture of innovation he’s experienced here.
“Although I expected it, I still was pleasantly surprised by the open, collaborative atmosphere here,” Jilka said. “Everybody is pulling together, everybody is working together. I can think of three words when I think of what I’ve experienced here so far: open, collegial and collaborative. I’ve been surprised by that — in a good sense of the word.”
With his mix of science and business backgrounds, Jilka brings a wealth of practical experience and multifaceted interests to his role.
After earning a degree in music, he moved to the scientific world and went on to receive his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by a post-doctoral opportunity at an agriculture company.
“In hindsight, that experience was fun because I was there when they were first starting to understand the rules for expressing a foreign protein in plants.”
His work led him to a seed company, where an effort looking to use corn as a protein warehouse was spun off into a start-up company.
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has elevated two faculty members to key leadership positions: Dr. Dan Shapiro will serve as vice dean for faculty and administrative affairs, and Dr. Erika Saunders has been named chair of the Department of Psychiatry.
Shapiro, currently chair of the Department of Humanities, will continue in that role as he also serves in the vice dean position. One of his priorities will be elevating the culture of respect at Penn State Hershey. He will also serve as a liaison between the dean’s office and search committees for department chairs.
Shapiro, the Garner James Cline Professor of Humanities in Medicine, joined Penn State Hershey in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Florida and went on to Harvard Medical School, where he completed an internship and an endowed post-doctoral fellowship. A psychologist, Shapiro’s writings about physician-patient relationships and physician wellness have appeared in the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Academic Medicine, as well as on NPR’s All Things Considered and other outlets. He is an award-winning author of three books, has served as a consultant for the television show “Grey’s Anatomy” and has also held two professorships from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
Saunders, who has served as interim psychiatry chair since December, is director of the Mood Disorders Program and an associate professor of psychiatry. She is also an adjunct research investigator with the Department of Psychiatry and Depression Center at the University of Michigan. Saunders came to Penn State Hershey in 2008 as an assistant professor of psychiatry. She received her undergraduate education from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from the University of Iowa. She completed a Howard Hughes Research Fellowship at Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School and residency training in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and she was awarded a Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fellowship. Saunders’ work has been recognized nationally, and she has been accepted to speak about her work to the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology and the American Psychiatric Association. She is a member of the American College of Psychiatrists and is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Saunders is active in medical student and resident education, and was awarded a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a Psychiatry Resident’s Teaching Award. She succeeds Dr. Alan Gelenberg, who retired from the organization in December after five years as department chair.
Dr. James Broach, professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular biology and Dr. Rongling Wu, director of the Center for Statistical Genetics and professor of public health sciences and statistics, have been named as the 2014-2015 University Distinguished Professors for Penn State College of Medicine.
Broach is a world-renowned scientist whose work has transformed the understanding of genomics and biology. In 2012, Broach was named the inaugural director of the Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine because of his significant achievements and his innovative approaches to translational research. Building on a strong foundation, Broach has established Penn State as a national leader in genomics, the next great frontier in medical sciences. He has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1978 and has recruited three bioinformatics faculty who are sought after nationally. In addition to his research, he maintains an extraordinarily high level of activity in teaching and mentoring students. His passion for science education and for encouraging young people to pursue careers in the sciences is immediately apparent to anyone who meets him. Click here to read more about Dr. Broach’s career.
Wu is a statistical geneticist and prolific research whose interests focus on establishing statistical tools for solving problems in genetics and genomics. His scientific contributions include pioneering a dynamic model called functional mapping, which maps genes that regulate the developmental process of complex traits. This is a computational tool aimed at identifying genes and genetic networks that control dynamic traits and can help explain the detailed genetic architecture of drug response by incorporating pharmacodynamics processes. Wu’s research is documented in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and he has co-authored five books. He has had tremendous success in obtaining funding for his research from the NIH, the US Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy. His contributions to statistical genetics have contributed to the University receiving national and international recognition. Wu has directed more than 20 graduate students in their Ph.D. dissertations and another six are currently under his direction. In 2012 , the Department of Public Health Sciences initiated his biostatistics program. Click here to read more about Dr. Wu’s career.
Missi and Adam Prosser clapped their hands behind their six-month-old daughter’s back. They blew a whistle next to Nora when she was asleep in their Mechanicsburg home.
Nora didn’t respond.
The couple noticed that Nora wasn’t babbling like their older two daughters had at that age. She would imitate mouth movements, but no sound came out. Their pediatrician referred Nora for hearing tests, which confirmed their suspicions.
Nora had profound, congenital hearing loss in both ears.
For six months, the Prossers worked with early intervention therapists to give Nora signs and visual language to help with her diagnosed speech delay. Hearing aids didn’t seem to help.
Online research and conversations with medical professionals at Penn State Hershey led the couple to decide they would have Nora evaluated for two cochlear implants, electronic medical devices that replace the function of the damaged inner ear, providing sound signals to the brain.
First available in the 1980s, cochlear implants have become more common for both children and adults with severe-to-profound hearing loss.
The Prossers scheduled surgery for shortly after Nora’s first birthday. Three days before, she came down with a fever. They rescheduled for November, but the anesthesia team sent them home rather than risking surgery while Nora had a cold. Finally, on January 8, the Prossers spent one long day at Penn State Hershey and had Nora’s implants put in.
“If you implant kids between ages one and three, nine out of 10 of them will be able to progress with their hearing to where they can use a phone and be in mainstream classes by kindergarten,” said Jason May, the surgeon who placed Nora’s implants. “They do real well long term.”
Two months later, when things had healed and the swelling had decreased, the Prossers returned to Penn State Hershey to activate Nora’s implants. (more…)
Editor’s Note: Penn State Medicine highlighted the relationship between Penn State College of Medicine and Ghana’s MountCrest University School in January. The College of Medicine’s Dr. Ben Fredrick recently returned from Ghana to give an update. Follow Penn State Medicine for updates on the College’s work with MountCrest.
MountCrest University School has broken ground on its medical school, the first in rural Ghana.
The school is on track to welcome its first class of medical students this September. Students will walk into a new four-story education building in the village of Larteh. The building will include lecture halls, small group rooms, and a library. Planned are a dedicated medical school building and a teaching hospital. Construction of the hospital is planned to begin May.
MountCrest will have its first White Coat Ceremony on September 5. White Coat Ceremony is when first year medical students receive their white doctor coats, signifying the beginning of medical education. Student coats are shorter than regular doctor coats, to easily identify them in the clinic setting.
“This is a significant event in Ghana because it marks an important decision by MountCrest leadership to help their health profession students develop humanistic qualities through a longitudinal humanities-in-medicine curriculum,” said Dr. Ben Fredrick (’00), director of the Global Health Center at the College of Medicine. Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, College of Medicine dean, is expected to attend the ceremony.
The College of Medicine was recognized in MountCrest’s law school commencement and during the groundbreaking ceremony by both Mountcrest founder Kwaku Ansa-Asare and a representative of the President of Ghana.
MountCrest is establishing the first private medical school in Ghana, and is also the first to build a medical school in a rural area of Ghana. The College of Medicine is working closely with Mountcrest to support the endeavor.
Today, 120 fourth-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine learned where they will spend their residencies in an annual tradition known as Match Day. A similar scene played out with fourth-year students at medical schools across the country.
The event for Penn State’s medical school, which took place at the Hershey Country Club, included a countdown to the moment when students eagerly ripped open the envelopes that held their futures. The moment was marked by cheers, hugs and tears.
This is the culmination of a process that began months ago as students visited and evaluated residency programs – and the programs evaluated them. Today, each student learned whether he or she was successfully ‘matched’ with the residency program of their choice.
Thirty percent of the College of Medicine graduates accepting residency appointments within Pennsylvania, with half of those staying at Penn State Hershey. The rest of the students are headed for programs across the country. Of all the graduates, 38 percent accepted residencies in primary care.
Editor’s Note: Match Day pictures, videos, and match lists will be published on Penn State Medicine after the Match Day ceremony on Friday, March 20.
Four years ago, they walked across the stage at Hershey Lodge and Convention Center to receive their white coats, marking their entry into medical school and their time at Penn State College of Medicine. One by one they stepped to the microphone, said their name, hometown and school, and walked over to wear, for the first time, their shortened white doctor coats to identify them as medical students.
This Friday, the College of Medicine Class of 2015 will once again mark a milestone as its members prepare for the next phase of their careers: residency. At noon on Friday, the class members will rip open envelopes that reveal their residency destinations in an annual ritual called Match Day.
Fourth-year medical students began the residency assignment process months ago by researching, visiting and interviewing with directors of residency programs that interest them. In February, students and other applicants filed their rank-order lists of residency programs of interest. Medical program directors also filed their rank-order lists of applicants. The National Resident Matching Program, a private, not-for-profit corporation established in 1952, completes the match.
Penn State Medicine caught up with three students – Timothy Brown, Carina Brown, and Jon-Ryan Burris – shown as incoming students in a video of the 2011 White Coat Ceremony (view here), to see what they remember of that day, and how they feel as Match Day approaches.