Dr. Penn has served as Special Advisor to the NINDS Director since January of 2007. She had served as Deputy Director of NINDS since December 1995 and as Acting Director from January 1998 to July 1998 and from February 2001 to September 2003. As Deputy Director, she worked with the Director in program planning and allocating the Institute's budget, and overseeing the Institute's staff of scientists, physician-scientists, and administrators.
Before joining NINDS, Dr. Penn was Professor of Neurology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and practiced neurology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She is one of the nation's leading neurologists and a well-known scientist specializing in neuroimmunology and neuromuscular disease research. Dr. Penn is especially known for her clinical expertise and accomplishments in research on myasthenia gravis, a rare disorder characterized by varying degrees of muscle weakness.
A native of New York City, Dr. Penn received her B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1956 and her M.D. in 1960 from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons; she trained in neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. As an NINDS special fellow for postgraduate training, she studied the biochemistry of muscle proteins implicated in muscle diseases, which later evolved into work on the acetylcholine receptor, the target protein in myasthenia gravis.
She is a former president of the American Neurological Association (ANA) and was previously a Director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. In addition to the ANA, her professional memberships include the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Harvey Society, and the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease. Her appointment as NINDS Deputy Director in 1995 followed a term serving on the Institute's National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council.
Last Modified August 7, 2009