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Our Educational Partnership with Leiden University Medical Center

October 1, 2021

Throughout its history, Wistar has successfully cultivated strategic relationships to accelerate the development of its discoveries toward the clinic. Recognizing that the potential of scientific discovery in biomedical research extends well beyond our borders, The Wistar Institute has recently expanded our international graduate student and post-doctoral training programs in immunology, cancer research and vaccine biology.

In the fall of 2019, the Wistar-Schoemaker International Postdoctoral Fellowship was launched in partnership with Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in the Netherlands. This postdoctoral training program brings LUMC graduates to Wistar for their postdoctoral training under the mentorship of a Wistar faculty member. The Wistar-Schoemaker Postdoctoral Fellowship builds upon the legacy of the late Hubert J.P. Schoemaker, Ph.D., a visionary pioneer in biotechnology and a native of the Netherlands, who was the co-founder of Centocor, now Janssen Biologics. Centocor engaged in an auspicious collaboration with Wistar to advance the Institute’s seminal research in monoclonal antibodies into a commercial platform. More importantly, Schoemaker believed in mentoring the next generation of innovative scientific leaders, which is the inspiration behind this program.

Together with Wistar’s work with Batavia Biosciences, the Wistar-Schoemaker Postdoctoral Fellowship is set to reprise the historical collaboration between Wistar and the Dutch biomedical research arena, expanding Wistar’s international partnerships in research and education and promoting scientific exchange between investigators in the Netherlands and the United States.

“Building more opportunities for international exchange in the training of junior scientists benefits all those involved,” said Dr. Dario Altieri, Wistar president and CEO. “International mobility offers invaluable opportunities for personal and professional development for students and trainees. At the same time, they enrich the host institution with their scientific and cultural background and, when they return to their home countries, they propagate the knowledge they’ve acquired and the scientific approach they have been exposed to. Last but not least, exchange programs create new opportunities for research collaboration.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a hold was placed on international travel and students were unable to begin their training at Wistar in 2020. However, designed with training in mind, the program also created a connection to establish new scientific collaborations between the two institutions that share several areas of research interest. Eager to begin the partnership, Wistar and LUMC came together for virtual seminars between the scientific leaders and faculty from both institutions to highlight potential collaborative avenues.

It is exciting to think of all of the potential scientific, cultural and commercial collaborations that are possible between the Philadelphia region and the Netherlands. Wistar is proud to play a small role in this developing relationship and looks forward to more partnerships in the future. 

In June, 2021, Wistar leadership met with the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Herman Quarles van Ufford and team to discuss our joint missions, exciting scientific collaborations and contributions to the life science community, including the Schoemaker International Fellows Program with Leiden University Medical Center, to our work on rubella with Batavia, to our interest in advancing multi-investigator research collaborations and corporate partnerships. There is a great deal to be excited about — and so much more that we can do that would benefit both the Philadelphia region and the Netherlands.