Along with a $250K grant, Penn gains MS post-doc
April 26, 2011, 4:46 am · Updated April 26, 2011, 12:00 am·
Soon, the Department of Neurology will gain Salim Chahin as their newest postdoctoral fellow in the Multiple Sclerosis Program — along with his cool quarter of a million dollar research grant.
Chahin, a native Syrian, received the $240,000 Clinical-Scientist Development Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and American Academy of Neurology Foundation for his research on the relation of loss of cells in the retina to vision and fatigue in patients with MS.
Chahin graduated from Damascus University in Syria in 2004 and moved permanently to the United States in 2006. He is currently finishing his residency at the University of Iowa Department of Neurology as Chief Resident and will start his fellowship with Penn’s MS Division this July.
At Penn, Chahin will work with Laura Balcer, a neuro-ophthalmologist who works with the MS program.
“We thought [Chahin] would be a great addition to our training and vision research programs,” Balcer remarked.
As for why he has come to Penn, “I loved the people, the program and the background of the research Dr. Balcer has already done,” Chahin explained. “When we met, we talked about potential research projects we could do together. I felt it was a good match.”
During Chahin’s three year fellowship, he will spend a certain amount of time seeing patients, receive his master of science in clinical epidemiology from the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and, most importantly, develop clinical and research skills to become an independent investigator in MS.
“The eye provides us with an easy and accessible way to look at the brain,” Balcer said. “In fact, the visual pathway is now viewed as a potential model for testing new MS therapies.”
The department is appreciative of Chahin’s arrival and is grateful to the National MS Society and AAN Foundation for the opportunity this grant brings for trainees.
“Your time beyond fellowship requires money because it’s nothing that the hospital pays for in many cases,” Balcer noted. “Having a grant allows us to be able to pay the tuition [for the MS program], and we’re extremely grateful for the award.”
In the future, Chahin hopes to gain a faculty position at an academic institution.
The MS Program at Penn has grown to be one of the top research institutions for research in neuro-ophthalmology and MS.