Penn President Amy Gutmann’s record tenure of nearly 18 years is the University’s most transformative.
Gutmann spearheaded the creation of an innovation ecosystem for Penn, Philadelphia, and beyond by transforming technology transfer at Penn to be both more faculty- and industry-friendly. In the depths of the Great Recession, she had the foresight to purchase a 23-acre abandoned land parcel and lost no time in converting it into a vibrant hub for innovation that anchors Philadelphia’s Lower Schuylkill Innovation District. Gutmann branded it Pennovation Works. As importantly, she created the Penn Center for Innovation, which expertly aids Penn faculty in advancing paradigm-changing—and often life-saving—Penn discoveries.
Life-saving historic innovations by Penn faculty have included CAR T therapy, the first-ever FDA-approved gene treatment for cancer, and the mRNA technology that lies at the heart of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. While annual commercialization agreements numbered in the single digits before Gutmann’s presidency, in fiscal year 2021, Penn executed 746 commercial agreements, generated more than $300 million in commercialization revenue, and garnered 142 patents. Today, Penn proudly acknowledges its ranking by Reuters as one of the most innovative universities in the world. Building off of this booming momentum, Gutmann announced in November 2021 that the University would invest $750 million in novel therapeutics and health-related initiatives; energy and sustainability; data engineering and science; and infrastructure to support physical science research.