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Wistar Receives Merit Extension from the National Cancer Institute

PHILADELPHIA — (August 2, 2022) — The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has granted a Merit Extension Award to The Wistar Institute’s Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center totaling more than $5 million. The Institute is the first NCI-designated Basic Cancer Center in the nation to receive this prestigious award, which extends its Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) for two additional years. Furthermore, Wistar’s Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center is among the first five NCI-designated Cancer Centers to earn the distinction countrywide.

“The Wistar Institute is the first basic NCI-designated cancer center to earn the prestigious Cancer Center Support Grant Merit Extension,” said Henry P. Ciolino, Ph.D., director of the Office of Cancer Centers at the NCI. “NCI extended the NCI-designation based on Wistar’s continued exceptional performance in uncovering the fundamental aspects of cancer, advancing these basic discoveries to impact patients through translation to clinical applications, and for conducting education and training of future cancer scientists. The seven-year term of the current NCI-designation will allow Wistar to increase its scientific impact through longer-range planning.”

Wistar’s Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center focuses on research for cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy, and the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) facilitates the Institute’s ability to embrace an interdisciplinary approach that merges basic, translational, and disease-relevant research. Having received an “exceptional” rating – the highest possible – in its past two, consecutive CCSG renewal applications, and maintained exceptional research progress, institutional commitment, and leadership, the Merit Extension application was approved by the NCI. This award will enable the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center to further advance the initiatives of its 2019 CCSG as well as expand on programmatic initiatives recently launched by the Institute’s Bold Science // Global Impact five-year strategic plan.

“The Wistar Institute is honored to receive this extension,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., president and chief executive officer, director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor at The Wistar Institute. “We are committed to scientific excellence in the face of diseases affecting people across the country, and we are grateful the NCI recognizes our determination and single-mission focus that has propelled forward a deeper understanding of cancer biology. We will continue to invest in promising scientific talent and training programs and pursue innovative solutions to cancer.”

Rugang Zhang, Ph.D., deputy director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, Christopher M. Davis Endowed Professor, and program leader of the Immunology, Microenvironment & Metastasis Program shares, “This merit extension not only reflects the NCI’s confidence in our Cancer Center’s remarkable momentum and exceptional trajectory, but also recognizes the excellent leadership of Dr. Altieri and the team at Wistar. This is truly a great achievement for our Cancer Center.”

In 1972, Wistar became the first NCI-designated Basic Cancer Center in the nation and has since been continuously recognized and supported by the NCI. Wistar’s Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center tackles cancer through multiple lenses, exemplified through the three scientific research programs at the Institute: the Gene Expression and Regulation Program; the Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program; and the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program. Recognized as a Basic Cancer Center, Wistar does not treat patients, grant degrees nor does it have an in-house health care system. This opens opportunities to collaborate with regional health care systems and public and private sectors on focused efforts into the science behind the treatments for cancer.

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