The Wistar Institute Announces New Capital Campaign

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By Chloe Hunt

The Wistar Institute just launched its Bold Science // Global Impact Capital Campaign on June 16, 2022.

So far, the Capital Campaign raised roughly 60% of its whopping $75 million goal. This project is a big feat, as it includes a five-year plan that operates under three big ideas: driving breakthroughs in biomedical science and technology, creating powerful partnerships locally and globally, and educating the next generation of innovators. 

Founded 125 years ago in Philadelphia, the Wistar Institute has a long history of biomedical research. The Institute holds the first National Cancer Institute, which was specially designated at the Institution in 1972, and over 30 laboratories dedicated to “some of the most important health challenges of the 21st century.” 

The first tenet of the Institute’s Bold Science // Global Impact plan focuses on increasing scientific talent, acquiring more technology, and expanding research capacities. This comes as the Institute has already made itself a worldwide name in the biomedical field. 

Wistar invented the first rabies vaccine, an effective rubella vaccine, and was the first to use monoclonal antibody technology as a mechanism for “treating cancer and autoimmune diseases.”

Secondly, the campaign hopes to connect the scientific community, locally and globally. This includes involving more regional health systems, bringing in more international perspectives, and fostering global-connectedness in the form of technology development and public-private partnerships. 

In terms of education, the Institute goes global through their Wistar Trainee Network. This will be a new program aimed at connecting “Wistar-trained scientists by expanding international training partnerships with universities abroad.”

COVID-19’s impact was undoubtedly a factor in The Wistar Institute’s Campaign. Dario Altieri, the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Institute, discussed the role of the pandemic in future health goals. 

“A once-in-a-century pandemic taught us the critical need to be nimble–to have the scientific freedom, capacity, and agility to rechart the course of human health,” Altieri said. “That’s why we’re taking bold action now with an institute-wide commitment to push forward and deliver purposeful, transformative impacts on health and life science.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Institute centered its efforts on unraveling “the viral mechanisms of disease.” This included creating and testing a new vaccine on mice, which utilizes self-assembling nanoparticles. 

Part of what drove this work was a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in November of 2021 to support pandemic research “focused on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on certain at-risk populations and supporting the commonwealth’s preparation and emergency response planning for future pandemics.” 

At the fabric of the Institute’s work is innovation with a global lens. 

“…If we choose our own path without trying to copy others, we will fulfill both dream and promise,” Altieri said. “Both are within reach. Where discovery solves big problems, knowledge improves lives and innovation creates new futures.”

As stated in the Institute’s official brochure for the campaign, this innovation comes with global mindedness. One goal of the campaign, assuming the Institute reaches its financial goals, is to grow the Wistar Science Accelerator program: supporting recruitment, partnerships, and access to care on a global scale. 

The Wistar Institute’s global approach stretches into its staff as well, with 289 staff members from over 20 countries are represented. The Institute is recognized on the global stage, as it is considered to be in the top three percent of global health-related institutions and the top one percent for global innovation. 

 For those who are interested in contributing to the Bold Science // Global Impact Campaign, you can check out this link to make your gift.  For details about the Institute’s Capital Campaign, check out this video with more information.  

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