Research is in Penn’s DNA. With more than $1 billion in annual R&D expenditures, the University is one of the top research universities in America.
“Research embodies Penn’s most profound mission: to discover the solutions to the most challenging global issues, and to develop those solutions to improve people’s lives,” says Provost Wendell Pritchett.
Published each year for the past 19 years, Research at Penn highlights groundbreaking research from each of the University’s 12 schools. Guided by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and written by the Office of University Communications, the brochure showcases fundamental connections between research and the pursuit of solutions to important issues, such as climate change, pandemics, and health inequality. Due to the pandemic, Research at Penn is online-only this year.
Dawn Bonnell, the senior vice provost for research, says the solutions to many of society’s challenges have their roots in fundamental, curiosity-driven, innovative research at institutions like Penn.
“By creating and expanding new knowledge, our understanding of humanity will continue to thrive and prosper,” she says. “Research is also a critical component of students’ education, providing experience in problem solving, exposure to new classroom modes of learning, and a platform to expand skills in critical thinking—all important assets for future citizens and leaders.”
It is impossible to talk about 2020 without talking about the coronavirus, so the 2021 edition of Research at Penn aptly highlights some of the diverse ways the University has been responding to and studying the pandemic and its impact.
The most notable example is the mRNA technology, innovated at Penn, being used in COVID-19 vaccines that are saving lives around the world.
Additionally, faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine formulated a new clearinghouse to coordinate coronavirus-related research: the Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens. Scientists at the School of Veterinary Medicine have investigated the effects of the coronavirus on lung cells.
A Wharton professor studied why some countries respond to pandemics better than others, and social scientists from the Field Center examined the pandemic’s impact on older youth in and aging out of foster care.
Cutting-edge, non-COVID-related research findings are included in the brochure as well.
Penn Medicine’s uterine transplant team has completed three uterine transplants to date, most recently in October 2020. Specialists at Penn Vet are designing the sustainable farm of the future. Researchers from the Penn Museum discovered the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens in Europe. Fittingly, a historian in the School of Arts & Sciences investigated shows how the Mediterranean quarantine system of early 19th-century Europe reshaped British public health policy.