Dr. Caryn E. Lerman, Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Services at the Abramson Cancer Center, has been appointed to the first endowed chair created from a $100 million bequest from the family of the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg to Penn's School for Communication and Public Policy Center.
"Dr. Lerman is the lead scholar on much of the important work done in collaboration with Annenberg School faculty to prevent teen smoking. She is among the shining examples of cross-school collaboration at Penn," said Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson.
Dr. Lerman is also a professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine with a secondary appointment as Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School. As a specialist in tobacco control research, Dr. Lerman studies the genetic influences on tobacco use and their implications for developing successful smoking prevention and treatment programs, and on methods to influence public policy on tobacco issues. Dr. Lerman oversees a team of scientists involved in basic, clinical, and epidemiological studies. She and her colleagues have demonstrated a link between smoking and genetic variants in the brain's dopamine and serotonin pathways.
In keeping with the tradition of the Annenberg School, Dr. Lerman has been afforded the opportunity to name her academic chair after an individual whose work she wishes to honor. She selected Mary Whiton Calkins, the first female president of the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association. "Mary Calkins attended Harvard University in the late 1800s, but was never awarded a college degree because she was a woman," Dr. Lerman said. "One reason I chose to honor her was to rectify that old injustice, as well as to call attention to the contributions she made to the field of psychology."
The Mary W. Calkins Chair is funded by revenue from a $100 million endowment (Almanac September 24, 2002) to the school and policy center that was announced September 19, 2002, by the Walter Annenberg Foundation. Last year's bequest augmented the Annenbergs' previous grant of $120 million (Almanac July 13, 1993). A newspaper and magazine publishing magnate, Mr. Annenberg founded the prestigious communications school at Penn in 1958.
Dr. Lerman came to Penn in 2001 from the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, where she was a professor of oncology, psychiatry, and pharmacology, and associate director for cancer control. She was awarded her undergraduate degree in psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and she went on to earn a masters degree in psychology and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California. Prior to her work at Georgetown, she was Director of Behavioral Oncology Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Lerman has received numerous awards for her work, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine's New Investigator Award; the Preventive Oncology Academic Award from the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association. She has also served on the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute and has co-chaired its Tobacco Research Implementing Group.