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Wistar Postdoc Young Chan Chae, Ph.D., Receives 2013 Chern Memorial Award

Young Chan Chae, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Altieri Laboratory, wins the 2013 Ching Jer Chern Memorial Award for the best scientific paper.

Dr. Chae’s winning paper, published in the journal Cancer Cell in 2012, demonstrated how tumor cells exploit a chaperone protein called heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) in cancer mitochondria. Dr. Chae found tumor cells use HSP90 to produce energy while also disabling its self-destruct capability. His research showed that HSP90 may ultimately be cancer’s undoing and could lead to exciting new therapies targeting cancer mitochondria.

The Chern Award is given in memory of Ching Jer Chern, Ph.D., a member of Wistar’s scientific staff from 1974 until his death from cancer in 1987. His wife June Chern established the endowment that funds the award in 1989 and she and her family continue to support the efforts of Wistar’s postdoctoral fellows. Every year, Mrs. Chern makes the trip to Philadelphia from California, to attend a special luncheon, hear the presentation of the winning paper and bestow the award. 

This year, Mrs. Chern brought Farmers Insurance agents from her district, which she manages, to accompany her on this trip. They were attending the Million Dollar Round Table Annual Meeting at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. During lunch, they peppered Wistar’s President and CEO, Russel E. Kaufman, M.D.,  with questions about genetic patents and got to hear a story about the late Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich calling upon the Wistar to help eradicate German measles in Russia. 

After Dr. Chae presented, Dr. Kaufman and Josie Burrie, senior development and board relations officer, presented Mrs. Chern with an award for her ongoing commitment to Wistar. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Ching Jer Chern Memorial Award.

Maureen Murphy, Ph.D., professor and program leader, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program, summed it up in closing remarks, “When I first arrived at Wistar, I was most impressed with the feeling that it was not just a leading biomedical research institute, but that it was also a family.  Mrs. Chern's continued commitment to Wistar re-enforces that sentiment, and Ching Jer Chern, and our winner Young Chan Chae, will both always be part of the Wistar family".