Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Discover Feinberg


Join us at a new series for friends of Feinberg that highlights current trends in medical research.

Inspired by possibility and undaunted by complexity, Northwestern’s world‑class physicians and scientists are working together across disciplines to translate new knowledge into better human health. Discover Feinberg is a lecture series that provides behind-the-scenes perspectives on the challenges, opportunities, and successes faced by those on the front lines of medical research. Hear from an interdisciplinary panel of experts about their work, and learn how seemingly disparate areas of research come together to advance the field as a whole.

Discover: Precision Medicine

Read a recap of the May 14 lecture here.


Harris R. Perlman, PhD
Chief of Rheumatology in the Department of Medicine

Harris R. Perlman, PhD

Harris R. Perlman, PhD, is the Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology. He was appointed chair of the division in September 2015. Dr. Perlman is a well-known and highly regarded scientist whose studies focus on the impact that macrophages, a type of white blood cell, and dendritic cells play in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. He also studies the relationship between systemic inflammation and atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.

After earning his doctorate degree at Tufts University in Boston, Dr. Perlman completed postdoctoral training at Northwestern University under the direction of Richard Pope, MD, Solovy/Arthritis Research Society Professor. Dr. Perlman joined the faculty as an assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology in 2001 with a secondary appointment in the Division of Microbiology-Immunology. Dr. Perlman left Northwestern to serve as assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Saint Louis University until 2008, when he returned to Feinberg.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Perlman has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, and he is currently co-editor and chief of the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Arthritis Foundation, the American College of Rheumatology, the American Heart Association, the American Association of Immunologists, and the International Society for Analytical Cytometry.

Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD
Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD

Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD, is the Jesse, Sara, Andrew, Abigail, Benjamin and Elizabeth Lurie Professor of Oncology. Prior to his appointment as director of the Lurie Cancer Center, he served as its first deputy director from 2002 to 2013. He also is a professor in Feinberg’s Departments of Medicine and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Dr. Platanias is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology and started his research career at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, followed by clinical training in medicine in New York and in hematology-oncology at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Platanias’s research focuses on cytokine signaling pathways in malignant cells and the targeting of such pathways for the treatment of leukemias. He has published more than 320 papers and his research has been continuously funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for over 25 years. He is the recipient of R01, U54, T32, and P30 grants from the NCI and an I01 Merit Review from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). His work has earned him numerous awards, including the Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for outstanding contributions in cytokine research. A member of various scientific societies, Dr. Platanias has served as president of the International Cytokine Society and in other national leadership positions. He serves as associate editor or on the editorial board of several scientific journals and has chaired or been a member of several NIH, VA, and Department of Defense study sections. He is currently a member of the parent committee—Subcommittee A, Cancer Centers—at the NCI and serves on the external advisory boards of several Cancer Centers.

Since Dr. Platanias became its director in 2014, the Lurie Cancer Center has experienced dramatic growth, with a more than 50 percent increase in NCI funding, nearly double the number of patients enrolled in early-phase trials, and the recruitment of over 100 new faculty. Under his leadership, the Lurie Cancer Center received the highest rating in its history from the NCI on the 2018 competitive renewal of its Cancer Center Support Grant.

During the Discover Feinberg lecture, Dr. Platanias will discuss the Lurie Cancer Center’s entry into the emerging precision medicine movement and OncoSET, its flagship clinical and research program launched in 2015. Through an innovative three-step process—Sequence, Evaluate, Treat—the clinic combines oncology with genomic sequencing to provide cutting-edge cancer care that is personalized for each patient. Through its collection and analysis of extensive genomic data, OncoSET informs ongoing cancer drug discovery and helps to advance pre-clinical research taking place not only at Northwestern, but around the world.

Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD
Chief of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Neurology

Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD

Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology. She also is director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine (CCSM), chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Feinberg, and medical director of Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. As director of CCSM, Dr. Zee oversees an interdisciplinary program in basic and translational sleep and circadian rhythm research, and findings from her team have paved the way for innovative approaches to improve sleep and circadian health. Dr. Zee is the founder of the first circadian medicine clinic in the U.S., where innovative treatments are available for patients with circadian rhythm disorders.

A central theme of Dr. Zee’s research program is to understand the role of circadian-sleep interactions on the expression and development of cardiometabolic and neurologic disorders. Her research has focused on the effects of age and neurodegeneration on sleep and circadian rhythms and pathophysiology of circadian sleep-wake disorders. In addition, her laboratory is studying the effects of circadian-sleep based interventions, such as exercise, bright light, and feed-fast schedules on cognitive, cardiovascular, and metabolic functions and their potential to delay cardiometabolic aging and neurodegeneration. Recently, her research team has also been interested in the use of acoustic and electrical neurostimulation to enhance slow wave sleep and memory in older adults.

Dr. Zee has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed original articles, reviews, and chapters on the topics of sleep, circadian rhythms, and sleep-wake disorders. She has also trained over 50 pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students and has mentored numerous faculty members. Dr. Zee is a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Neurology and a member of the American Neurological Association. She has served on numerous national and international committees, NIH scientific review panels, and international advisory boards. She is past-president of the Sleep Research Society, past-president of the Sleep Research Foundation, and past-chair of the NIH Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board. Dr. Zee is also a member of the NIH Heart Lung and Blood Disorders Advisory Council. She is the recipient of the 2011 American Academy of Neurology Sleep Science Award and the 2014 American Academy of Sleep Medicine academic honor, the William C. Dement Academic Achievement Award.

Upcoming Events 

Discover: Aging

September 2019 (details to come)

Previous Events

Discover: Precision Medicine

May 14, 2019