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Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center of The Wistar Institute

The first National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center in the nation for basic research since 1972.

Cancer Center

The mission of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center is to merge basic, translational and disease-relevant cancer research in a single scientific continuum with focus on cancer prevention, diagnosis and therapy. The Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center has a history of significant advances in cancer genetics, cancer biology, tumor immunology, and virology, including the identification of genes associated with different tumor types, the development of monoclonal antibodies used to study pathways and proteins involved in tumor development, and contributions to improved cancer treatments and diagnostic tests.

The Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center is structured into three research programs. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to cancer research, our scientists are working to advance knowledge in the following areas:

  • The molecular pathways underlying some of the most prevalent and deadly types of cancer, to develop new targeted therapies and move forward in the direction of personalized cancer treatment
  • The crosstalk between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment and how it orchestrates tumor progression and response to therapy
  • Cancer genomics and epigenetics
  • The mechanisms of therapy resistance and how they can be overcome
  • Tumor immunology and immunotherapy
  • Tumor cell metabolism and how it affects metastatic competence


The leadership of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, supported by internal advisory committees and the Cancer Center External Advisory Board, develops the Center’s goals and leads in the implementation of strategic directives. In addition, the Institute’s External Advisory Board meets yearly to review the Center’s programs and plans for recruitment and research.

Senior Leaders

Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Director
Maureen Murphy, Ph.D., Deputy Director

Research Program Leaders

Gene Expression and Regulation Program

Program Leader: Paul Lieberman, Ph.D.
Program Co-Leader: Bin Tian, Ph.D.

Immunology, Microenvironment & Metastasis Program

Program Leader: 

Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program

Program Leader: Maureen Murphy, Ph.D.
Program Co-Leader: Chengyu Liang, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Directors

Michele Conlin, Associate Director for Finance
Mark Drinker, Associate Director for Administration
Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., Associate Director for Shared Resources
Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., Associate Director for Translational Research
Italo Tempera, Ph.D., Associate Director for Cancer Research Career Enhancement
Jessie Villanueva, Ph.D., Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Contact Us

For more information on the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, please contact:

Mark Drinker
The Wistar Institute
3601 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

CEO Cancer Gold Standard

Wistar Celebrates 10 Years as a CEO Cancer Gold Standard Employer

Wistar is committed to spreading awareness about cancer prevention among its employees. The accreditation recognizes employers who prioritize workplace wellness initiatives and a commitment to a tobacco-free work environment.