Penn Medicine Innovations, Physicians are Tops in Annual Philadelphia Magazine List

May 1, 2012

Philadelphia Magazine

In this year’s Philadelphia magazine Top Doctors issue, Penn Medicine again has the most Top Docs of any hospital or health system in the region, with a total of 193 Penn Medicine physicians on the 2012 Top Doctors list. Of these, 137 see patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Perelman Center for Advance Medicine and/or Penn Medicine at Radnor, 38 at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and 35 at Pennsylvania Hospital.

The magazine’s cover story features Philadelphia-area medical innovations this year, and highlights six different research initiatives and programs from Penn Medicine, showing the breadth and depth of the health system’s expertise. Featured medical innovations include:

  • A Vaccine Against Leukemia - A new gene therapy approach using patients’ own T cells to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia not only wiped out their tumors, but also triggered the dying cells to produce a chemical that caused other modified T cells to multiply and attack as “serial killers,” bolstering the patients’ immune systems. “It’s like putting Barry Bonds on steroids,” says Carl June, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Translational Research for the Abramson Cancer Center. “It worked much better than we thought it would.” Next, the research team is extending the research to earlier-stage and pediatric leukemia patients, eventually hoping to win FDA approval... Read More
  • Photodynamic Therapy Breakthrough for Mesothelioma Patients - Joseph Friedberg, MD, chief of Thoracic Surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, says this incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos offers “a lot of opportunity—it can’t get any worse, right?” That attitude helped him develop a photodynamic therapy that’s turning the deadly cancer into a manageable disease. Patients are given a drug that sensitizes their cells to light. Friedberg excises the visible cancer from around the lung, then zaps the chest cavity with a laser that penetrates into tissue and activates the drug. The blood vessels feeding any remaining cancer are fragile and more sensitive to light than normal cells, so they get zapped. And, unexpectedly, the photodynamic therapy triggers the patient’s immune system to fight off more cancer. “Survival is usually only a few months after diagnosis,” Friedberg says, “but we’re seeing up to three and four years." Read More