Shelley L. Berger Is Appointed Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor

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Media Contact:Ron Ozio | | 215-898-8658June 16, 2009


PHILADELPHIA -- Shelley L. Berger has been named the 10th Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The announcement was made today by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Interim Provost Vincent Price.

The appointment of Berger, a world-renowned genetics researcher, is to be the Daniel S. Och University Professor and is shared between the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences.

“One of the world’s most distinguished epigeneticists, and a wonderful mentor as well, Shelley Berger is revolutionizing our understanding of genetic information,” Gutmann said. “Her work is intrinsically interdisciplinary and holds tremendous potential for not only treating devastating diseases such as cancer, but also preventing them entirely.”

Berger is a leader in the rapidly evolving field of epigenetics, the study of genetic changes caused by factors other than genes. Her research focuses on the role of chromatin (the combination of DNA and proteins found in chromosomes) in regulating genes, especially in cancer and viral infections.

This work brings together genetics and biochemistry to inform the study of critical diseases –- for example, the changes that occur when tumors progress from benign to metastatic states –- and ultimately lead to the development of new treatments and therapies.

“Shelley Berger’s tremendously exciting work keeps Penn at the cutting edge of medical discovery,” Price said. “Her research has already proven transformative, and her great reputation as a teacher and advisor is well known to her future colleagues and students at Penn.”

Gutmann launched the Penn Integrates Knowledge program in 2005. The University-wide initiative recruits exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines. PIK professors hold joint appointments between two schools at Penn.

Berger was previously Hilary Koprowski Professor at the Wistar Institute. She received her Ph.D. and B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan.

The Daniel S. Och University Professorship is the gift of Jane and Daniel S. Och. He is a Penn alum and founder of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, an alternative asset management firm in New York. He is a University trustee, serves on the Wharton Undergraduate Executive Board and mentors Penn students through the Jewish Heritage Program.