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UPenn’s Parker Institute works to fight cancer with new immunotherapies


Tech zillionaire and philanthropist Sean Parker has made a massive contribution to cancer research, establishing the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at six of the nation’s top medical schools and cancer centers, including the University of Pennsylvania.

Last month, Penn announced that it had received initial funding of $10 to $15 million to establish the Parker Institute. The dollars will support laboratory studies and clinical trials, recruitment of talented new faculty, and support for early-career investigators who will train at Penn.

“We are tremendously excited to join this collaboration, which will allow us to investigate promising new immunotherapy avenues for the treatment of cancer outside of our institutional silos in very unique ways,” says Dr. Carl June, director of the Parker Institute at Penn. “Working together will enable us to make quicker progress as we work to translate our laboratory findings into clinical trials.”

Penn’s initial projects will cover a wide range of both basic science and clinical areas, including next-generation therapies for dogs and cancer prevention vaccines. The work will augment Penn’s longstanding commitment to oncological research. In 2015, more than 10,000 patients participated in Abramson Cancer Center clinical trials. Nearly 1,100 trials are currently underway; 80 are immunotherapy studies.

Parker, founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook, established the Parker Foundation last year with a $600 million gift. The foundation made a $250 million gift to back the new venture, with the goal of accelerating breakthrough immunotherapy research and turning more cancers into curable diseases.

ELISE VIDER is news editor of Keystone Edge.

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