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Wistar Receives Support of More Than $5.5M from Private Foundations and Funding Agencies 

PHILADELPHIA — (Aug. 7, 2018) — In the first half of 2018, The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, received funds of more than $5.5 million in grants and awards from local foundations, and national and international funding agencies to support research, education and training at the Institute.

Farokh Dotiwala, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, was awarded an $825,000 grant from the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation. This funding will support his research on antimicrobial resistance in bacteria for three years. Dotiwala discovered microptosis, a process through which our immune system kills bacteria. Since bacteria don’t develop resistance to microptosis, Dotiwala will research how to exploit his knowledge of the process to develop novel therapeutic strategies to combat anti-microbial resistance, a global issue that is turning diseases like pneumonia, tuberculosis and malaria into potentially mass-killer illnesses.

• The Robert I. Jacobs Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation awarded Wistar a $192,000 grant to extend support for the “HIV-1 Patient Partnership for Basic Research.” This program encompasses biomedical research, community education in partnership with local organizations, and internship opportunities for local students. Research is conducted at the Institute’s Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center in the lab of Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., professor and director of the HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Laboratory. The grant includes a $32,000 contribution to support a trainee in Wistar’s Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program to complete the two-year program in one of Wistar’s four research laboratories working in HIV.

Sergey Karakashev, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Rugang Zhang, Ph.D., in the Gene Expression and Regulation Program, was the recipient of the 2018 AACR-Astra Zeneca Ovarian Cancer Research Fellowship. This is a $110,000 grant over two years that will fund research on the combined use of two inhibitors as a treatment for a type of ovarian cancer characterized by elevated expression of the CARM1 protein.

Education and scientific training are a fundamental part of Wistar’s mission. The Biomedical Technician Training Program, a collaboration with the Community College of Philadelphia, prepares college students to become research assistants in the biomedical field. The Institute has received funding from multiple sources in support of the BTT Program:

• $48,000 from The S. Albert Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation to support participation of two students in the program in 2018 and 2019.

• $40,000 from The Gray Charitable Trust. Part of this grant ($13,500) will also fund the Summer High School Fellowship Program that provides an opportunity for Philadelphia students to experience full immersion in biomedical research under the mentorship of Wistar scientists.

• $10,000 from Janssen Research & Development, LLC.

In addition, Wistar recently announced other significant grants awarded by private foundations and funding agencies, such as the Campbell Foundation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) and the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy (JKTG Foundation). Taken together, these funding sources add up to $5,538,644 to support innovative research discoveries and advance educational training at Wistar.

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The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. wistar.org.

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