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2019 in Review: Wistar’s Major Accomplishments

Besides groundbreaking science advanced by Wistar researchers, 2019 has seen several important accomplishments that expanded the Institute’s reach as a major player in Philadelphia’s life sciences scene, the nation and worldwide.

International Recognition 

In 2019, Wistar ranked in the top 3% of health-related institutions globally and in the top 10% in the U.S., according to SciMAGO Institutions Rankings (SIR). The Institute also ranked in the top 6% globally and in the top 20% in the U.S. for research. Wistar’s best performance was in the innovation category, in which it came in the top 1% of institutions globally and in the top 4% in the country.

Data source: SIR is a classification of academic and research-related institutions based on a composite indicator that combines a set of variables relating to three main areas: research, innovation and societal impact as measured by web visibility.

Funding Performance

Wistar received the highest number of National Cancer Institutes (NCI) awards and the largest funding support of all peer institutes in the Philadelphia area except the University of Pennsylvania.

Compared to its peer NCI-designated basic cancer research centers across the country, The Wistar Institute Cancer Center also scored first for number of awards and total funding from the NCI.

Data source: NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT). This is a searchable database of NIH-funded research projects, publications and patents resulting from NIH funding.

Awards and recognitions bestowed upon Wistar scientists

•    Dmitry Gabrilovich, M.D., Ph.D., professor and leader of the Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program and Christopher M. Davis Professor, and Chi Van Dang, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program, appeared in the 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list compiled by Clarivate Analytics (formerly of Thomson Reuters), which includes researchers whose papers ranked in the top 1% by citations in their field in the Web of Science citation index.

•    Gabrilovich was also awarded an American Cancer Society (ACS) Research Professorship, a lifelong designation accompanied by a five-year $400,000 commitment that is the most prestigious research grant made by ACS.

•    David B. Weiner, Ph.D., executive vice president, director of the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, and the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Professor in Cancer Research, appeared in the 2018 “Top 20 Translational Researchers” list compiled by the editors of Nature Biotechnology journal and just published in the most recent issue. The list ranks researchers by the impact of their patents and their publications on the scientific community and includes world-renown scientists from MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and other prestigious institutions. 

•    Weiner was also the recipient of the 2019 Scientific Achievement Award from Life Sciences Pennsylvania, the trade association for the Commonwealth's life sciences community.

Achievements in Education

•    Two grants totaling more than $128,000 were awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry in support of Wistar’s training and workforce development initiatives, the Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program and the Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship.

•    The grants were part of the PAsmart initiative launched by the Commonwealth to fund workforce development projects that enhance skills and develop talent in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and computer science industries. 

•    During the 2nd Annual Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Summit, the BRT Apprenticeship was named the 2019 Outstanding Non-traditional Apprenticeship Program, an important recognition bestowed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

•    Wistar and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in the Netherlands formalized an agreement to establish the Wistar-Schoemaker International Postdoctoral Fellowship, an international postdoctoral exchange program that will launch in 2020 and will bring Ph.D. graduates from LUMC to train at Wistar.

Serving as a connector in the local and international bio-hub

•    Wistar and University Place Associates collaborated on a $100 million project for the building of 3.0 University Place, a 240,000-square-foot “research and discovery hub” in West Philadelphia that will create new space for biotech startups and pharmaceutical companies in response to the growing science and innovation enterprise in the region. 

•    Wistar, Columbia University and Harvard University are part of a strategic research alliance established by Boston Biomedical. Advancing discovery and innovation in oncology, Boston Biomedical will have access to the three institutions’ new technologies, which could result in the development of cancer drugs to benefit patients.