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|President and CEO||Dario C. Altieri, M.D.|
|Address||3601 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States|
The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical science, with special expertise in oncology, immunology, infectious disease and vaccine research. Located in the University City section of Philadelphia, Wistar was founded in 1892 as America's first nonprofit institution solely focused on biomedical research and training, The Institute works to ensure that research advances from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.
Since 1972, Wistar has been a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center and holds the NCI's highest rating of "Exceptional" from approximately 1,500 cancer centers across the United States.
The Wistar Institute Cancer Center's pioneering work spans from studying genetics and the molecular and cellular events underlying how cancer develops, to the role of the microenvironment surrounding the tumor in how cancer spreads (metastasis), with the aim of making discoveries that could someday translate into advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Wistar maintains one of the largest U.S. labs outside of the NIH.
Cancer Center accomplishments
- Identifying the genes associated with breast, lung, and prostate cancers.
- Pioneering the science of monoclonal antibodies used to study the pathways and proteins involved in tumor development.
- Improving cancer treatments and diagnostic tests for disease, including a recent blood test for lung cancer, currently in clinical trials.
- Creating the first drugs against cancers caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.
- Discovering the functions of BRCA1 by defining its key partner protein in the cell.
- The Wistar Melanoma Cell Line repository is one of the largest in the world, with more than 500 cell lines.
Immunology and vaccine development
A global leader in vaccine development, the Wistar Institute's half-century of achievement in vaccine development has saved countless lives in the U.S. and abroad. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the creation of vaccines that protect children and adults from widespread, debilitating, and life-threatening diseases.
- Wistar discoveries led to the creation of the rubella vaccine that is credited with eradicating "German measles" in the United States; human rabies vaccines used worldwide; and a rotavirus vaccine approved in 2006 that prevents an illness responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children worldwide each year.
- Wistar researchers are collaborating with leading scientists worldwide to develop vaccines for hepatitis C, malaria, and other potentially deadly diseases. Wistar is also working on a universal influenza vaccine that would be effective against all strains of influenza, including avian flu.
- Wistar contributed technology critical to the development of the first vaccine for the Zika virus approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration to be tested in humans. Wistar is accelerating this novel DNA-based technology for other viruses besides Zika, including influenza, HIV, MERS, Ebola, and CHIKV, and also as combination therapies for prostate, ovarian, prostate, and other cancers.
- Wistar scientists are developing new strategies for immunotherapy and collaborating with scientists locally and worldwide to develop a greater understanding of cases of natural resistance against infection.
- Wistar is co-leading a consortium of 30 of the nation's top HIV investigators which received a nearly $23 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2016 for HIV cure research. Partnering with government, non-profit, and industry partners, this team will test combinations of several novel immunotherapies under new preclinical research and in clinical trials.
- Wistar immunologists are developing new therapies for autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Education and training
Educating and training the next generation of scientists are central to The Wistar Institute's mission.
- Training the scientists of tomorrow: Over the past decade, nearly a thousand researchers, from predoctoral students to postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists from around the world, have trained at Wistar.
- Educating area youth: Wistar offers internships, tours, and contests to area high school students to stimulate and nurture their interests in science. The Institute also offers a two-year training program for biomedical technicians in partnership with the Community College of Philadelphia.
- Engaging the community: The Institute hosts community events including lectures by noted science authors that are designed to stimulate science learning and discussion.
Designed by Philadelphia architects George W. and William G. Hewitt, the original building is still part of the Wistar Institute's research facility, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the historic University City area in Philadelphia.
Today, part of the human and animal skeletal collection is housed at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
In 1906, under Milton Greenman, M.D., and Henry Donaldson, Ph.D., the Institute developed and bred the Wistar rat, the first standardized laboratory animal. It is estimated that more than half of all laboratory rats today are descendants of the original Wistar rat line.
- Peter C. Doherty, Ph.D.: Doherty, an Australian veterinary surgeon and researcher in the field of medicine, has worked with the Institute since 1975, and is currently an emeritus member of the Institute's Board of Trustees. Doherty has received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1995), the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel (1996), and was named Australian of the Year (1997).
- Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D.: Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro. This is known as the Hayflick limit.
- Hilary Koprowski, M.D.: Koprowski, a Polish virologist and immunologist, is the inventor of the world's first effective live polio vaccine. He served as director of the Institute from 1957 to 1991, a period during which Wistar achieved international recognition for its vaccine research and became a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center. He held the title of Professor Laureate at Wistar and also served on its Board of Trustees. Koprowski's numerous awards and distinctions include a Fulbright Scholarship, the Alvarenga Prize of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (1959), Belgium's Royal Order of the Lion, the French Order of Merit for Research and Invention, the San Marino Award for Medicine (1989), the Nicolaus Copernicus Medal of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Philadelphia Cancer Research Award, the John Scott Award, the Philadelphia Award (May 1990), the title of "Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland" (1995), the Legion d'Honneur (1997), the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (1998), and the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal (2007).
- Ruth Patrick, Ph.D.: Patrick is an American botanist and limnologist specializing in diatoms and freshwater ecology, who developed ways to measure the health of freshwater ecosystems and established a number of research facilities. Her work has been widely published and she has received numerous awards for her scientific achievements, including the National Medal of Science in 1996 and the Heinz Award Chairman's Medal in 2002. Patrick is currently an emeritus member of the Institute's Board of Trustees.
- Stanley Plotkin, M.D.: Plotkin is an American physician, who, in the 1960s, played a pivotal role in discovery of a vaccine against the rubella virus while working at Wistar. Plotkin was a member of Wistar's active research faculty from 1960 to 1991. Plotkin's professional awards include the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies(2005); the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal (2002); the French Legion Medal of Honor (1998); the Clinical Virology Award, Pan American Group for Rapid Viral Diagnosis (1995); the Distinguished Physician Award, Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (1993); and the Bruce Medal of the American College of Physicians (1987).
- Tadeusz J. Wiktor, DVM: a veterinarian and part of the team which developed the human diploid cell vaccine for use protecting humans against rabies. Former head of the Institute's rabies unit.
- "Official website of the Wistar Institute". The Wistar Institute. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- "Rubella vaccines for the former USSR". Chemistry World News. The Royal Society of Chemistry. 17 January 2006. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
- *Clause, B. T. (1998). The Wistar Institute Archives: Rats (Not Mice) and History, Mendel Newsletter February, 1998. Archived 2006-12-16 at the Wayback Machine
- "The Wistar Institute:History". The Wistar Institute. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-11-09.