From the President

From the President


This is a seminal moment for The Wistar Institute. In a generation, this moment will seem every bit as historic as the founding of the Institute in 1892, or when we earned the designation of Philadelphia’s first National Cancer Institute Cancer Center in 1972. As you will read in this issue of Focus, Wistar is in expansion mode, embarking on both a massive building project and a $35 million capital campaign. 

Russel E. Kaufman, M.D.

Our new research tower will provide vital collaborative research space as well as a new public face for the Institute. By the time we cut the ribbon on this building in 2014, you will see a Wistar that is utterly transformed, physically. In fact, barely a corner of the Institute will remain untouched in our efforts to upgrade the laboratories and working conditions for all of our researchers and employees. 

The Building Wistar, Changing the World campaign will make this transformation possible, as well as support the recruitment of a diverse array of scientists whose talents will complement our research goals. This is not about laboratory space and money, however, this is about the future.

Much like 1892 and 1972, we are once again setting the stage for scientific advancement. Over the past few decades, Wistar has been at the forefront of a technical revolution in the understanding of genetics and disease. We have already begun the process of translating this basic biological knowledge into clinical practice, and now is the time to accelerate our efforts. 

The challenge of finding innovative medical applications for scientific research remains in the capable hands of Wistar scientists, but to actually get those innovations into the clinic we must partner with our medical colleagues. In this issue of Focus, we highlight our latest partnership with the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, which is eager to apply some of our latest advances in lung cancer screening and melanoma therapy. Your support delivers the resources our researchers need to continue turning scientific potential into medical reality. 

This issue of Focus also includes some of the latest research from Wistar laboratories. Of course, a twice-a-year publication cannot contain all of the interesting Wistar goings-on. To capture some of that material, the Focus staff has put together a supplemental audio podcast for your listening enjoyment, featuring a talk with historian Gary Lash, Ph.D., who talks about Isaac Wistar’s Civil War legacy, and our latest faculty member Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., who discusses her work and the challenges of melanoma prevention. You can “tune” in at: wistar.org/focus 

Thank you again for your continued support in advancing science, building Wistar and, indeed, changing the world.