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The Wistar Institute Receives Generous Support From Foundations

PHILADELPHIA — (Dec. 19, 2019) — In the past six months, scientists at The Wistar Institute received funding from private foundations totaling $2,418,000 that will fuel new discoveries in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases.

  • The Pew Charitable Trusts awarded a $1M grant to the Institute to support the recruitment of three new faculty members at the assistant or associate professor levels. The addition of the new investigators will enhance and expand Wistar’s focus on immunotherapy for infectious diseases and cancer.
  • David B. Weiner, Ph.D., Wistar executive vice president, director of the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, and the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Professor in Cancer Research, received a $452,000 grant that will fund research on combining different DNA-based approaches for delivery of vaccinal activity against HIV. The grant was awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust awarded three $110,000 grants to assistant professors Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, Ph.D., and Kar Muthumani, Ph.D., of the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, and Kavitha Sarma, Ph.D., of the Gene Expression & Regulation Program. These grants will allow the scientists to further their research on immune reconstitution after HIV antiretroviral therapy, novel DNA-encoded therapeutics for dyslipidemia and epigenetic mechanisms involved in brain cancer, respectively.
  • Zachary Schug, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, received a $200,000 grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research to fund his research focused on targeting cancer metabolism as a precision medicine approach.
  • Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., Herbert Kean, M.D., Family Professor and director of the HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Laboratory at Wistar’s Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, was awarded a $130,000 grant from the Robert I. Jacobs Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. This funding extends previous support of the “HIV-1 Patient Partnership for Basic Research” program that includes biomedical research, community education in partnership with local organizations, and internship opportunities for local students.
  • A $100,000 grant from the Melanoma Research Foundation bestowed upon Vito Rebecca, Ph.D., a staff scientist in the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, will support his work investigating melanoma pathways involved in therapy resistance.
  • Kavitha Sarma, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Gene Expression & Regulation Program, received a $100,000 award from the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania for her research on the role of particular DNA/RNA molecules in BRCA1 and BRCA2-mutant cancers.
  • Daniel Kulp, Ph.D., associate professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, was the recipient of a $40,000 subaward from a Penn Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) grant. This funding is directed to study and develop multivalent HIV vaccine immunogens.


The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special cancer, immunology, 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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