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The Wistar Institute will be renamed Ellen and Ronald Caplan Center in honor of the donors. Credit: Serena Jankovic

The Wistar Institute announced on March 8 that it received a $10 million donation from Ellen and Ronald Caplan to go toward the institute's center for cancer research.

The center will be renamed the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center in honor of the donors. Ronald Caplan, the founder and president of PMC Property Group, has been a member of the Wistar's Board of Trustees since 2009. This donation is the largest the Wistar Institute has received to date.

Wistar’s Cancer Center is the nation’s first independent biomedical research organization. It is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. The donation will expand opportunities by bringing new scientists, acquiring new technology, and trying to answer the difficult questions in cancer research, President and CEO of the Wistar Institute Dario Altieri told The Daily Pennsylvanian.

“Ellen and I are honored to invest in the source of scientific discovery — the scientists whose life-changing breakthroughs will continue to bring us one step closer to a future without cancer," Ronald Caplan said in a March 8 press release.

The donation will help transform the treatment of cancer by advancing fundamental and translational research. The cancer center hopes to expand on research surrounding treatment resistance, mechanisms of tumor progression, and new therapeutics, Altieri said. 

This process will also involve the recruitment of new talent that would focus on treatment resistance, metabolic and cellular reprogramming, cancer systems biology, and personalized anticancer strategies. It aims to increase the number of faculty by 10 to 40 members. 

“For a place like Wistar, the philanthropic gift is about hope and the promise that research can generate breakthroughs in biomedical research that eventually will end up in clinical practice and help people,” Altieri said. 

Ronald and Ellen Caplan have previously donated to the Wistar Institute. In 2014, the institute opened the Robert and Penny Fox Tower with the Sarah and Matthew Caplan Auditorium — named for the Caplans' children. 

“What a place like Wistar brings to the table is an opportunity-driven approach of pursuing innovation related to diagnosis and treatment. There's been tremendous progress in cancer research of the last few decades, but a lot more remains to be done, and we really hope that the new funding will accelerate the pace of new discoveries,” Altieri said.