The Philadelphia Foundation Announces 2018 Brody Fellow

Katherine Palozola, Ph.D., Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Awarded Fellowship to Study Gene Therapy Treatments for Inherited Blindness

Read a Q and A with Dr. Palozola about her research

PHILADELPHIA, PA (05/07/2018) – The Philadelphia Foundation is pleased to announce that Katherine Palozola, Ph.D, is the 2018 recipient of the Brody Family Medical Trust Fund fellowships for medical research in incurable diseases. The prestigious fellowship will fund two years of Dr. Palozola's research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School Of Medicine into using gene therapy to treat inherited blindness.

Dr. Katherine Palozola
Dr. Palozola

"For those who have been diagnosed with an incurable disease, this fellowship offers hope and a new perspective," said Pedro A. Ramos, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Foundation. "We are giving the best and brightest minds in our region the tools they need to do cutting-edge work that will change lives. The Brody family laid out this bold vision in establishing this fellowship, and it is captured in Dr. Palozola's meaningful research."

Untreatable forms of blindness affect millions of people, and more than 60 percent of cases of blindness among infants are caused by inherited eye diseases, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This year's fellowship will fund research to remediate existing limitations of adeno-associated virus vector delivery, specifically for retinal gene therapy.

The research complements breakthrough technology from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine laboratory, whose research led to the recent first-ever approval from the Food and Drug Administration for gene therapy treatment of a genetic disease. If successful, Dr. Palozola's research would likely have broad relevance to other "delicate/resistant" cell types as a potential tool for gene therapy for other diseases.

"The Brody Family Medical Trust Fund fellowship will fully fund my efforts to pursue this research," said Katherine Palozola, Ph.D. "There are hundreds of different mutations that can cause blindness. Developing this in vitro model will give us a starting point for any ocular gene therapy we could want to develop in the future."

About Dr. Katherine Palozola

Dr. Palozola received her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2017 and is now a first-year Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT) at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the development of ocular gene therapies for heritable forms of blindness, including the engineering of in vitro retinal models for early stage therapeutic development. A native of St. Louis, she lives in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia.

About the Brody Fellowship

The prestigious fellowships provide an average of $70,000 a year for up to two consecutive years for full-time postdoctoral fellows in the early stages of their research into cutting-edge treatments for diseases that have a substantial societal impact and for which no consistently effective cure presently exists.

The fellowships are awarded from an endowed fund established by Sara Brody in memory of her brother, Dr. Louis Brody, her parents Dora and Hans Brody, her sister Ida Brody and her brother Benjamin Brody. Dr. Brody was a police surgeon and a family practitioner.

This year marks the seventh time fellowships have been awarded from the endowed fund. Past recipients have studied ALS, Alzheimer's Disease, Type I diabetes, heart disease, fibrosis (the overproduction of connective tissues which can result in a stiffening of skin and joints), motor function related to spinal cord injuries and ways to fight chronic infections such as HIV and cancer.

In selecting recipients, the Board of Managers of The Philadelphia Foundation is advised by a highly distinguished panel of physicians and scientists with expertise in medical research convened by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Fellowships are available to applicants who will be doing their research at Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine or The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

About The Philadelphia Foundation

Founded in 1918, The Philadelphia Foundation (TPF) strengthens the economic, social and civic vitality of Greater Philadelphia. TPF grows effective philanthropic investment, connects individuals and institutions across sectors and geography, and advances civic initiatives through partnerships and collaboration. A publicly supported foundation, TPF manages more than 900 charitable funds established by its donors and makes over 1,000 grant and scholarship awards each year. To learn more, visit

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