Wistar and USciences to Prepare the Next Generation of Cancer Biologists

Wistar and USciences to Prepare the Next Generation of Cancer Biologists

When Dario C. Altieri, M.D., became director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center, he expressed a dream of moving Wistar toward becoming a “Destination Institute” — a place that would draw scientists from around the world (see Focus, Winter 2011). One arm of that effort would be to build upon Wistar’s rich heritage in education.

Cancer Biology Graduate ProgramToward that end, Altieri and colleagues at the University of the Sciences (USciences) in Philadelphia have begun laying the groundwork to offer a new Ph.D. graduate degree program in cancer biology. The program, which will focus on the mechanics of the disease and future drug development, would be unique in a region brimming with excellent research degree programs.

Wistar’s effort to create the new program is being led by Altieri and Wistar Associate Professor José Conejo- Garcia, M.D., Ph.D, who had been recently named Wistar’s director of Graduate Studies. The Institute has secured funding to help launch the program through generous grants from the Cigna Foundation, the Scholler Foundation, and the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation.

“The Wistar Institute offers a rich training ground for cancer research. Our faculty has a strong cancer focus, and yet there is a great diversity of cancer themes within their research,” said Altieri, who also serves as chief scientific officer. “Students in this program will have an educational experience of unparalleled depth and breadth. Also, program graduates will be poised to enrich Philadelphia’s strong life sciences base.”

This integrated cancer biology program provides a solid core curriculum, complemented by advanced study in the translational research approaches that fuel drug discovery and development. The program includes hands-on training at The Wistar Institute’s Molecular Screening Facility, where researchers test the potential of small molecules as therapeutic drug candidates.

According to Conejo-Garcia, the program is designed to attract students with an interest in problem-solving. “We are looking for highly talented and motivated students with a primary interest in any aspect of cancer biology,” said Conejo- Garcia. “We value previous research accomplishments, previous training in biologically relevant areas and academic potential.”