Penn Scientist receives first annual prize for scientific contributions to women's health

Philadelphia, PA Marisa Bartolomei, PhD, Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, was awarded the first annual Society for Women's Health Research Medtronic Prize for Scientific Contributions to Women's Health. She was recognized for her work in the field of sex differences research and women's health. Bartolomei received a $75,000 award and trophy at the Society for Women's Health Research's annual gala dinner held in Washington, DC on Monday, May 8, 2006.

"It's an honor to be chosen by a society that has done so much to promote women's health," says Bartolomei. "Being able to increase awareness that there are gender-specific issues in health--for me, being a part of that effort is what this award is all about."

The Society established the award to recognize a women scientist or engineer for her contributions to women's health and encourage women to work on issues uniquely related to women's health. To be considered, each nominee must be in the middle of her career, devote a significant part of her work to women's health research, and serve as a role model and mentor for both colleagues and students.

Using mouse models, Bartolomei has found that individual chromosomes have chemical memory of whether they came from the mother or father. Further, she established that this memory can be erased with negative consequences early in the embryonic stage by environmental factors. These findings lay the groundwork for future research, which can target disease and developmental problems related to erased chromosomal memories.

In animal models, she has studied how assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF and ICSI can lead to genomic imprinting disorders, which affect how different genes are expressed. Her ideas are being applied to the study of maternal and fetal health. Bartolomei also studies a phenomenon called X inactivation, how a given X chromosome is activated or inactivated in an embryo. Understanding this process will also shed light on the genetics of X-chromosome-related diseases.

"All of my lab's areas of investigation impinge on gender-based research," notes Bartolomei.

In addition to research, Bartolomei is dedicated to graduate and medical education, having trained numerous pre- and postdoctoral students, clinicians, and other health care professionals. She received her PhD in biochemistry, cellular, and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. Bartolomei came to the University of Pennsylvania in 1993.


The Society for Women's Health Research is the nation's only non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through research, education, and advocacy and is based in Washington, DC. (

PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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