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Zarnescu named Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Training

Daniela Zarnescu, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular physiology, has been selected as the next associate dean for graduate education and postdoctoral training. She will succeed Charles (Chuck) Lang, PhD, who is retiring at the end of July in the role previously named associate dean for graduate education.

Zarnescu received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn StateĀ in 2000 and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in the areas of developmental and human genetics. Prior to moving to Penn State College of Medicine in July 2022, she was a professor of molecular and cellular biology, and neuroscience at the University of Arizona, where she served as director of the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences umbrella graduate program (2018-2022), vice chair of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (2020-2022) and executive committee member for the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics (2008-2012).

While at the University of Arizona, Zarnescu worked closely with the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Program, postbaccalaureate and summer undergraduate research programs to increase access to graduate education for trainees from underrepresented backgrounds. She has a strong background in and is committed to mentoring diverse trainees at undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels. Her research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Muscular Dystrophy Association and private donors, aims to uncover the molecular mechanisms of age dependent neurodegenerative diseases and to develop therapeutic strategies for neurodegeneration using Drosophila, cell-based models and patient tissues.

As associate dean for graduate education and postdoctoral training, Zarnescu will work closely with College of Medicine department chairs, graduate education program directors and teaching faculty to deliver an exceptional learning and teaching experience for students and faculty.

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