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Wistar Donors Play a Major Role in Accelerating the Impact of Basic Biomedical Science.

July 23, 2019

Doug and Peggy Briggs have laid the groundwork to bring emerging scientific stars to Wistar through the Institute’s newly founded Caspar Wistar Fellows Program. 

It started with a meeting between former QVC president & CEO Doug Briggs, Wistar President & CEO Dario C. Altieri, M.D., and Institutional Advancement Vice President Anita Pepper, Ph.D., discussing how Doug could make the most impact with a philanthropic partnership, taking into consideration his vast experiences and unique background coupled with Wistar’s future goals and aims.

“Being a member of the Wistar Board of Trustees for a number of years, I became increasingly convinced that Wistar was doing exceptional research to advance biomedical science,” said Doug. “So, I thought, how can I help to create something totally new, potentially game-changing that will build Wistar’s brand for the long-term and take it to the next level of awareness with young aspiring scientists and potential new donors?” 

From these discussions emerged the Caspar Wistar Fellows Program: a brand-new program and the only one of its kind in Philadelphia. It fast-tracks the most promising, early-career scientists to pursue creative, out-of-the box biomedical research for the benefit of humanity. 

The Program is as ambitious as biomedical research is itself and taps the top echelon of early-career scientists to join Wistar under the mentorship of talented principal investigators committed to science and a culture of collaboration. 

“If you follow the NFL, teams trade up in the draft to get the best new players coming out of college,” said Doug. “Everybody wants to draft number one, two, or three to get the top candidates. We tried to design this Program to allow Wistar to move up in the draft. Not by pecking order, but rather through a special fellowship that draws top candidates to Wistar because they’re going to get their own lab, more freedom, and the ability to work with top Wistar scientists.”
That new, emerging top talent is Dr. Rahul Shinde, Wistar’s first Caspar Wistar Fellow who comes to us from Canada. 

Shinde has been making striking advances in cancer research focusing on the role of macrophages in shaping the tumor microenvironment—comprised of extracellular matrix, stroma, and immune cells—which is a key determinant of cancer initiation, progression and resistance to therapies. He is also interested in the gut microbiome and its connection in modulating the tumor microenvironment and tumor progression. 

A second Caspar Wistar Fellow will be appointed soon, with a total of four new Caspar Wistar Fellows joining Wistar over the next four years.  

“If you can identify high potential talented candidates, then what do you do?” said Doug. “You fuel their ambition by providing an opportunity that surpasses their expectations. That’s what this Program does. It recruits top emerging scientists from across the globe and supports the next phase of their research endeavors. Most peers will be working on someone else’s research project in a lab not their own. But not so for a Caspar Wistar Fellow. Wistar is giving them the freedom to independently embark on their creative endeavors.”

As early career scientists make a name for themselves so does Wistar.

“Wistar is doing exciting work that impacts medicine,” said Peggy Briggs. “We are proud to support these new scientists who can make a difference. We look forward to watching Dr. Shinde and future Caspar Wistar Fellows make an impact on human health.”