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Federal Funding Fueled Growth of Wistar Science in 2018

PHILADELPHIA — (Feb. 11, 2019) — The Wistar Institute announces that it was awarded more than $16M in federal research funds in support of its groundbreaking research in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases. Highlights from select awarded grants include:

  • Alessandro Gardini, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Gene Expression & Regulation Program, was awarded a grant for $2,232,500 over five years. This grant will support a project to study the role of particular genomic regulatory sequences termed enhancers and the Integrator transcription complex during maturation of monocytes.
  • Kazuko Nishikura, Ph.D., professor in the Gene Expression & Regulation Program, was granted a four-year renewal of a grant for $1,917,880 that funds research on the functions of the ADAR1 enzyme that her lab discovered and characterized. This grant has been continuously renewed for 26 years.
  • Paul Lieberman, Ph.D., professor and leader of the Gene Expression & Regulation Program and Hilary Koprowski, M.D., Endowed Professor, was granted a five-year renewal for $1,904,515 of a grant that supports research on the molecular mechanisms of cancers associated with Epstein-­Barr Virus long-term latent infections. This grant has provided continuous support for this project for 16 years.
  • The Institute received a $398,418 supplement to its Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute. This supplement will provide funds for two years to Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, to support his innovative research to understand the mechanisms that drive cancer onset in HIV-infected individuals by dissecting the role of carbohydrate structures (glycans) present in the host immune environment.
    Several Wistar scientists were co-principal investigators in multi-laboratory collaborative grants or received subawards as part of larger grants to other institutions.
  • Joseph Salvino, Ph.D., professor in the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, received sub-contracts from two grants with Drexel University and Case Western Reserve University. The first grant will support optimization of a novel anti-HIV compound through medicinal chemistry approaches; the second grant will support the development of novel compounds to target metabolic vulnerabilities of pancreatic cancer. Salvino will receive funds for $1,030,885 and $325,465, respectively, over five years.
  • Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., Ira Brind Professor Professor and co-leader of the Immunology, Microenvironment & Metastasis Program, is one of the principal investigators in a multi-laboratory cooperative grant awarded to the University of Pennsylvania. The research team will investigate how some rare cells within a tumor are able to evade the effects of the therapy, which may have a potential clinical impact on melanoma treatment. Weeraratna received funds for $1,038,685 over five years.
  • Andrew Hu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Immunology, Microenvironment & Metastasis Program, received a $745,308 sub-award from a larger grant to the Medical University of South Carolina. This four-year award will support research on graft versus host disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in leukemia.
  • Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., vice president of Scientific Operations, director of the HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Laboratory and Herbert Kean, M.D., Family Professor, is a co-investigator on a grant to Yale University and received a sub-award for $475,712 over five years. The research project focuses on the mechanisms of HIV-1-driven proliferation of infected CD4+ T cells that contributes to viral latency and hampers the HIV eradication efforts.


The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer, infectious disease research, and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.

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