The Wistar Institute Cancer Center has undergone transformative changes during the last budget period that reconfigured every administrative, scientific and educational segment of the organization. Coinciding with the recruitment of Dr. Altieri as the first, dedicated Director of the Cancer Center, an inclusive, transparent and highly consultative strategic planning process was completed in the last budget period. Emerging from the 2012 Cancer Center Strategic Plan was a unifying vision to conquer cancer through outstanding research, education and partnership and an underlying mission to merge basic, translational and patient-oriented cancer research in a single scientific continuum. The stepwise but decisive implementation of the new strategic directives during the last budget period established a new administrative and decision-making infrastructure of the Cancer Center, comprehensively realigned scientific Programs for optimal research impact and synergistic collaboration, and reorganized Shared Resources as financially-sustainable engines of Wistar discoveries. To enable the vision of the Cancer Center in translational and patient-oriented cancer research, multidisciplinary, inter-programmatic initiatives were launched in the areas of melanoma and ovarian cancer, and unique inter-institutional agreements were established with regional health systems for access to clinically-annotated, primary patient specimens. Training the next generation of cancer scientists became a strategic priority, fulfilled with the launch of a new, Wistar-based graduate program in cancer biology and the deployment of expansive mentoring and career development tools for junior faculty. Against this backdrop, the Cancer Center successfully recruited nine new faculty members at all academic ranks, many of them research leaders, during the last budget cycle, grew its National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding base by 21% from $8.1 million in 2008 to $10.2 million in 2013, and expanded its collaborative publications from an average of 9.7% in 2008 to 29.3% in 2013 across all three scientific Programs. The extraordinary growth of the past budget period, increased cancer focus, refinement of scientific themes and highly collaborative environment have now placed the Cancer Center on a steep upward trajectory, ideally suited to leverage the opening of a new, $102 million, seven story tall, Wistar Research Tower scheduled for the summer of 2014. Providing for the largest faculty and facility expansion of Wistar in forty years, the new Tbiver will enable the further development of focused and multidisciplinary flagship research themes in each Program along the continuum of basic, translational and patient-oriented cancer research.
In its past 40 years of history as an NCI-designated Cancer Center, Wistar has built a reputation for outstanding, disease-relevant cancer research. The extensive changes introduced in the past budget period have further strengthened the Wistar cancer research portfolio, and optimally positioned the Cancer Center for its upcoming large facility and faculty expansion.
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