Dr. Robert Ricciardi Receives Penn’s Distinguished Teaching Award


Robert RIcciardi, PhD

Philadelphia — Dr. Robert Ricciardi, Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, has been recognized for his excellence in teaching as a 2016 recipient of the University of Pennsylvania’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Awards for Distinguished Teaching. Penn presents eight Lindback awards each year, divided evenly between health-related disciplines and all other departments and divisions of the University. Award winners are determined by nominations and recommendations made by faculty and students. This year’s recipients will be recognized at a University-wide event held on April 19, 2015.

Dr. Ricciardi has been part of the School’s standing faculty since 1992, joining Penn Dental Medicine as Associate Professor and promoted to Full Professor within the Department of Microbiology in 1996. Since 2012, he has held the leadership post of Chair of the Department of Microbiology. Currently, Dr. Ricciardi is serving as Chair of the Committee for Student Advancement and as Director for the Infectious Disease core curriculum for Graduate Dental Education. He has also served as Microbiology Director for the Division of Advanced Dental Education (DADE) for several years.

Over the years, Dr. Ricciardi has also served as Chair of the University Graduate Program in Microbiology, Virology and Parasitology as well as the University Biomedical Panel. Dr. Ricciardi has a long-time affiliation with the University’s basic science departments. He has had secondary appointments, been course director and taught and advised in different departments and graduate groups in the University including Genetics, Biochemistry, Biology, Pathology, and Wharton. Dr. Ricciardi has been a Ph.D. Thesis Advisor to 16 graduate students.

Dr. Ricciardi’s scientific career began with the discovery of a gene mapping technology while a postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School. For many years at the University of Pennsylvania, his laboratory has focused on mechanisms that control gene expression, viral oncogenes, tumorigenesis, and immune escape. In particular, his studies have elucidated a major way by which the master regulator of the immune system (NF-kappaB) is controlled. In the last few years, Dr. Ricciardi’s laboratory has invented a new technology for developing drugs to treat viral diseases, including smallpox, which remains a bioterror threat; molluscum contagiosum, which is a skin disease that largely affects children; and herpes ocular heratitis, which can lead to loss of vision and blindness. To create a channel that can drive these antiviral drug discoveries in providing unmet medical needs, Dr. Ricciardi has founded Viraze, a Penn Center for Innovation biotechnology startup company.

“With Dr. Ricciardi’s award, comes recognition that he not only excels at research, entrepreneurship, and service, but that his teaching is in the top tier as well,” says Dean Denis Kinane. “We congratulate another excellent Penn Dental Medicine teaching success.”

The Lindback Awards were established in 1961 with the help of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation.