Pancreatic Cancer Translational Center of Excellence

Research in progress

Innovative Pathways in Tackling Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. With over 44,000 new cases each year, and few effective standard treatment options, treating pancreatic cancer is a major challenge.

The dedicated, multidisciplinary team at the Pancreatic Cancer Translational Center of Excellence (TCE) drives the discovery of new treatment options for this devastating cancer — and offers meaningful hope to our patients.

Transforming the Standard of Care

Researchers and scientists at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center are already pioneers in developing groundbreaking approaches to defeating pancreatic cancer — it’s no wonder they were selected as members of a nationwide “Dream Team” for Stand Up 2 Cancer, a charity established by the Entertainment Industry Foundation to support the most innovative approaches to fighting cancer.

Spearheaded by Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, Anil Rustgi, MD, and Peter O’Dwyer, MD, the Pancreatic Cancer TCE uses insights into pancreatic cancer biology and genetics to create a deeper understanding of both the tumor and its tendency to metastasize — unlocking new strategies for a standard pancreatic cancer care model that is changing what it means to receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

More specifically, this TCE focuses on:

  • Utilizing genetically-engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer that mimic the tumor’s environment and its protective “shell,” which allows researchers to assess new drugs and immunotherapies at unprecedented resolution and efficiency
  • Isolating and characterizing biomarkers — such as circulating cancer cells — that is fueling early detection, genetic analysis and profiling, and early assessment of a patient’s response to therapy
  • Expanding clinical trials program in order to establish innovative and successful therapies for patients with pancreatic cancer

These laboratory resources, driven by a dynamic, expanded clinical program, accelerate the development of new drugs and early detection methods, including immune therapies, resulting in personalized cancer treatments.

Giving Opportunities

To learn more about how to support a Translational Center of Excellence at the Abramson Cancer Center, please contact Tricia Bruning at 215-898-1033 or