The Wistar Institute Opens New $100 Million Biomedical Research Facility

Robert and Penny Fox Tower at The Wistar Institute Will Fuel New Era of Team Science and Groundbreaking Discoveries

Article ID: 622731

Released: 2-Sep-2014 4:30 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Wistar Institute

  • Credit: The Wistar Institute

    The new seven-story Robert and Penny Fox Tower in Philadelphia.

  • Credit: The Wistar Institute

    The front entrance of the Fox Tower

  • Credit: The Wistar Institute

    In the main atrium of the Fox Tower

  • Credit: The Wistar Institute

    A head on look at the Fox Tower's wall of windows

  • Credit: The Wistar Institute

    A view from the 2nd floor walkway shows the intersection between new and historic buildings

  • Credit: The Wistar Institute

    The 200-seat Caplan Auditorium

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA—(September 2, 2014)—The Wistar Institute, an international leader in basic biomedical research, announces the opening of its new $100 million research building. The seven-story Robert and Penny Fox Tower will usher in a new era of team science and solidify Wistar’s future at the forefront of cancer research, genetics and vaccine development. Wistar is the nation’s first independent biomedical research institute and was Philadelphia’s first NCI-designated Cancer Center.

The Institute broke ground on the seven-story, 89,700-square-foot expansion project in Sept. 2011. The expansion provides five new floors of laboratory space and increases the potential number of labs from 30 to 45.

Each floor is designed as a large, state-of-the art, open-plan research lab that will enable four Wistar professors and their individual research groups to work collaboratively in scientific teams. This design has been demonstrated to foster greater problem solving and discovery in research.

“No longer is a laboratory simply a room where individual researchers toil at their benches,” said Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., Wistar president and CEO. “Science today requires space and infrastructure to foster open communication, to provide opportunities for researchers from widely different sets of knowledge and expertise to collaborate in order to tackle the scientific challenges of tomorrow. This ‘team science’ approach sparks scientific innovation and optimal results."

The tower is located on Spruce Street in the heart of Philadelphia’s University City and serves to unite the entire Wistar campus. It links to both the original 1894 facility (now known as the East Building) and the newly renovated 1975 Cancer Research Building (now known as the West Building).

Along with the latest testing and screening technologies, Wistar will now have the capacity to take discoveries even further toward providing therapeutic value and saving lives. The expansion will also enable Wistar to recruit new scientists.

“We cannot simply hit an innovation switch to bring about new medicines or discoveries, but what we can do is bring together motivated scientists from multiple fields and allow them to combine their expertise in ways that we cannot even foresee,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Wistar’s chief scientific officer and director of Wistar’s Cancer Center. “That has always been the Wistar way and this building will enable collaborative science to occur on an even greater scale.” A new public entrance on Spruce St. will enhance Wistar’s outreach and visibility. Visitors will travel through a sun-lit glass atrium to attend scientific lectures and public events in the new 200-seat high-tech Sarah and Matthew Caplan Auditorium. Open public spaces throughout the building will also enhance Wistar’s accessibility to the community, serving as a place where non-scientists of all ages can learn about human life and basic scientific research.

The expansion and renovation project also includes upgrades to aging infrastructure with new high-efficiency, energy saving heating, cooling, electrical and data systems.

The Robert and Penny Fox Tower at The Wistar Institute officially opens with a gala event on September 12.

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Additional information:

Project architects and engineers: BallingerConstruction management: L. F. Driscoll, LLCProject financing: Citizens BankProject support provided by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Corporation


CONTACT: Greg Lester, 215-898-3943/

Editor’s Note: Print quality images of the new Wistar Institute research tower are available.

About The Wistar InstituteThe Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute, recently receiving an “exceptional” rating. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today’s Discoveries – Tomorrow’s Cures. On the Web at

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