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Wistar Institute’s Maureen Murphy Named Deputy Director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center


Accomplished cancer researcher supports strategy and expansion of this NCI-designated Cancer Center

PHILADELPHIA, PA, Jan. 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Maureen Murphy, Ph.D., has been named Deputy Director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center at The Wistar Institute. Murphy will guide the growth of the Cancer Center through expanding research initiatives and collaboration, education and training programs, and recruitment to fast-track innovative basic cancer research discoveries into future transformative drugs and therapies. 

“I am honored and excited to throw all my energy into achieving Wistar’s strategic goals,” said Murphy, the Ira Brind Endowed Professor. “I look in amazement at Wistar’s progress these past ten years, both scientifically and financially. We have a growing endowment, immense scientific impact, a newly revitalized culture of collaboration, the commitment of our leadership to provide new technology to support ambitious biomedical research, and the spearheading of education programs from high schooler to non-traditional trainee to junior faculty—all under the direction of our president and CEO Dario Altieri.”

In 1972 Wistar became the first NCI-designated Basic Cancer Center in the nation and has continued to be recognized and supported by the NCI. In 2022 Wistar became the first basic NCI-designated Cancer Center to earn the Cancer Center Support Grant Merit Extension.

Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Wistar president & CEO, director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center and Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor said, “I cannot be more grateful to Maureen for her unwavering commitment, dedication and support of our Institute and Cancer Center, and I very much look forward to working with her to chart our vision for the future of the cancer research enterprise at Wistar in sync with our recently released five-year strategic plan and associated philanthropic campaign.”

Recently, The Wistar Institute embarked on a five-year campaign, a roadmap of Institute priorities in science, education, and strategic collaborations. The Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center was formally named in 2022 and prioritizes the prevention and treatment of cancer by advancing fundamental high-risk, high-reward basic science into next-generation therapeutics.

Murphy is known for her research on P53, a tumor suppressor gene that is mutated in almost every type of cancer. She studies the impact of genetic variants of p53 on cancer risk and therapy response, with a focus on genetic variants in African-descent populations. Murphy’s research has relevance for understanding ethnic disparities in cancer risk and survival. Her lab also studies the HSP70 protein where Murphy has pioneered pharmacologic targeting of HSP70 for cancer therapy, particularly metastatic melanoma and colorectal cancer. 

Murphy holds vital administrative roles promoting Institute stewardship, including program leader of the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, associate vice president for Faculty Affairs, and principal investigator of the Training Grant in Cancer Biology, which provides support for top Wistar trainees, and is one of the five longest standing training grants in the history of the National Cancer Institute.

Murphy earned her B.S. degree in biochemistry from Rutgers University and her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania. She conducted postdoctoral research at Princeton University in the laboratory of Arnold J. Levine, Ph.D., a co-discoverer of p53 and a pioneer in the field of tumor suppressor genes and cancer biology. Prior to joining Wistar, Murphy was a professor at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Murphy joined The Wistar Institute in 2011 and in 2012 became program leader of the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program. In 2019 she became the Ira Brind Endowed Professor. Murphy is an adjunct professor at Drexel University College of Medicine and The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.


The Wistar Institute, the first independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, marshals the talents of an international team of outstanding scientists through a highly enabled culture of biomedical collaboration and innovation, to solve some of the world’s most challenging and important problems in the field of cancer, immunology, and infectious diseases, and produce groundbreaking advances in world health. Consistent with a pioneering legacy of leadership in not-for-profit biomedical research and a track record of life-saving contributions in immunology and cell biology, Wistar scientists pursue novel and courageous research paths to life science discovery, and to accelerate the impact of early-stage discoveries by shortening the path from bench to bedside.

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