Shelley L. Berger, Ph.D., Named to Koprowski Endowed Professorship at Wistar

Shelley L. Berger, Ph.D., Named to Koprowski Endowed Professorship at Wistar

May 2, 2003

(PHILADELPHIA-May 5, 2003) - Professor Shelley L. Berger, Ph.D., an expert in mechanisms that regulate gene expression, has been appointed to the Hilary Koprowski Endowed Professorship at The Wistar Institute, an independent nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center.

The professorship, which honors an outstanding scientist at The Wistar Institute, is named for Hilary Koprowski, M.D., an eminent virologist and immunologist who was Wistar's director from 1957 to 1991. Koprowski is professor laureate at The Wistar Institute and a member of its Board of Managers.

"We are delighted to appoint Dr. Berger to the Hilary Koprowski Endowed Professorship," says Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., director and CEO of The Wistar Institute. "She has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of gene expression, and this endowed professorship will support her continuing investigations."

"The Wistar Institute, with its collegial atmosphere, has been a wonderful institution for me to develop as a scientist," Berger says. "The collaborations fostered in this environment have helped me to achieve scientific success, and I thank my colleagues, including wonderful graduate students and postdoctoral trainees, for creating a terrific place to do research.

"I am enormously grateful for this recognition of the scientists from my laboratory and their work, which is implicit in my appointment to the Koprowski Professorship," Berger continues. "Hilary Koprowski established Wistar as a world-class research institution, and I am honored to hold the chair in his name."

Berger's research focuses on mechanisms that regulate gene expression with a special emphasis on how the DNA-packaging structure of chromatin is manipulated during genomic processes. She is pursuing genetic, biochemical, and structural studies of chromatin in human and yeast cells. Her findings inform the study of cancer and other diseases, and ultimately drug discovery.

At Wistar, Berger served as assistant chair of molecular genetics for four years. She also holds adjunct appointments at the University of Pennsylvania in biology and in Penn's School of Medicine in genetics. She serves on the editorial board of Molecular and Cellular Biology and is a reviewer for Cell, Science, Nature and other journals. Her research is supported by major grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Berger joined The Wistar Institute in 1993 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1998 and then to professor in 2003. She completed her postdoctoral training at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University and earned her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The Wistar Institute is an independent nonprofit biomedical research institution dedicated to discovering the causes and cures for major diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. Founded in 1892 as the first institution of its kind in the nation, The Wistar Institute today is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center-one of only eight focused on basic research. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the development of vaccines for such diseases as rabies and rubella, the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, and prostate cancer, and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools.