Wistar Earns 'Exceptional' Rating for NCI Cancer Center Support Grant for the Second Review Cycle in a Row, Demonstrating Strength of Science


Wistar’s Cancer Center became the first National Cancer Institute-designated basic cancer center in the nation in 1972 and has held this national recognition for the past 46 years.

After extensive peer review, The Wistar Institute’s Cancer Center has received an “exceptional” rating on its Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) application from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for the second review cycle in a row and the grant has been recommended for renewal, providing $13.6 million to the Cancer Center scientific enterprise.

Wistar’s CCSG achievement of “exceptional” denotes its prestigious standing among the nation’s best, a status gained and maintained through top research programs, historic partnerships, state-of-the-art core facilities, impactful educational programs, and scientific leadership.

“This recognition is an incredible accomplishment for Wistar and a testament to the scientists, staff and collaborators who continue to shape and drive our cutting-edge science,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., president and CEO, director of the Cancer Center and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor at The Wistar Institute. “We have a storied history of producing high-impact scientific discoveries in cancer biology and through this NCI Support Grant will be able to continue to advance our influence on translational and patient-focused cancer research.”

In 1972, Wistar became the first institution in the nation to receive the NCI-designation as a cancer center solely devoted to basic research in cancer biology. Since then, the Institute has continuously held this designation, achieving the highest ranking of “exceptional” for its CCSG renewal application.

To earn the NCI designation, Wistar’s Cancer Center demonstrated scientific excellence, innovative and impactful contributions in basic and translational cancer research, and productive partnerships with clinical collaborators and neighboring academic institutions. The center’s activities were evaluated in a rigorous peer review process. Key accomplishments that fostered scientific achievements during this process include:

  • Expanded scientific infrastructure including the opening of the Robert and Penny Fox Tower;
  • Transition of leadership to Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Wistar President and CEO;
  • Expanded five-year strategic plan;
  • Successful recruitment of 11 new talented Cancer Center principal investigators; and,
  • Expansion of the collaboration with the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

The Wistar Institute Cancer Center’s overall mission is to advance and merge basic, translational and clinical cancer research in a single scientific continuum, and to do so by pursuing scientific excellence, innovative contributions and productive collaborations with diverse academic institutions.

Additionally, Wistar’s many partnerships locally and beyond have enabled the Institute to move research forward for the benefit of human health. In partnership with the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Delaware, one of the largest community cancer hospitals in the nation, Wistar scientists can access critical clinical cancer related data and patient samples to drive discovery research that may someday translate into new therapies. The Institute’s 20+ year synergetic educational collaboration with the Community College of Philadelphia has created innovative training opportunities to foster a pipeline of young scientists equipped and eager to enter the region’s vibrant life sciences community.

“Through our partnerships and state-of-the-art facilities, we continue to drive innovative research forward, ignite productive collaborations, publish our science in high-impact journals, recruit top scientists in the field, and offer outstanding facilities and technical expertise to our scientists,” saidRugang Zhang, Ph.D., deputy director of Wistar’s Cancer Center and professor and co-leader of the Gene Expression & Regulation Program at Wistar. “This NCI designation of our Cancer Center recognizes Wistar’s outstanding research efforts, and our deep commitment to advancing cancer research and care.”

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