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Biology Professor Selected for Drexel’s National Leadership Program for Women in STEM


May 23, 2018

Felice  Elefant, PhD
Felice Elefant, PhD

Felice Elefant, PhD, associate professor of biology, is one of 18 Fellows selected nationwide for this year’s Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering program at Drexel University. ELATE at Drexel is an elite professional and leadership development program for women in the academic STEM fields.

The 2018-19 class of Fellows includes 18 experienced and diverse women faculty from 16 institutions across the country and Canada, including leaders in biotechnology, chemistry, engineering and health science.

Elefant is a biologist whose research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that govern epigenetic regulation of higher order brain function. Her research recently made headlines for reinstating learning and memory in fruit flies with Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

Elefant and her team noticed elevated levels of the HDAC2 enzyme early in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in fruit flies. By adding more of the enzyme that HDAC2 is paired with, Tip60 HAT, the team restored the balance between the two epigenetic enzymes and prevented symptoms of cognitive impairment. Their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience,strongly support further investigation into Tip60 HAT activators and may lead to new avenues for gene therapy.

“When people age, they have a loss of memory, but it’s not because there are mutations in their genes,” she says. “It’s the way the genes are packaged. They’re distorted. And we’re seeing non-invasive ways we might be able to prevent that early on.”

As an ELATE Fellow, Elefant will participate in activities and discussion facilitated by leaders in the fields of STEM research and leadership development. The program focuses on increasing leadership effectiveness, leading change initiatives within institutions, using strategic finance and resource management to enhance organizational missions, and creating a network of exceptional women who bring organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to the institutions and society they serve.

"I am excited by the opportunity afforded to me by the ELATE program," Elefant says. "I hope to acquire leadership and mentorship skills that will allow me to meaningfully impact the mission and goals of Drexel University."

For more information on the ELATE program and curriculum, visit