PHILADELPHIA — A $1.5 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania has established the Barbara and Edward Netter Associate Professorship in Cancer Gene Therapy at the Abramson Cancer Center. Bruce Levine, PhD, a faculty member in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine and the director of the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility, has been appointed to this new associate professorship.

Barbara Netter and her late husband, Penn alumnus Edward Netter (C’53), have supported Penn since the early 1980s. Their contributions created the Netter Center for Community Partnerships on campus, and they have been longtime champions for research to advance gene therapy, having founded the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy in 2001 following the loss of their daughter-in-law to breast cancer. The foundation has provided funding to numerous Penn Medicine scientists, including the team Levine is part of, led by Carl June, MD, that has conducted trials demonstrating the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors. This new personal gift from Mrs. Netter will further this breakthrough research.

Dr. Levine is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania (C’84), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. He began his scientific career at the Wistar Institute during summers in high school and as an undergraduate at Penn, and in the division of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia examining immune responses following Varicella vaccination. Dr. Levine received his PhD in Immunology and Infectious Diseases from the Johns Hopkins University in 1992, and served as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Carl June at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, MD, and later as an Investigator at NMRI and a Research Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences. He joined returned to Philadelphia to join the Penn Medicine faculty in 1999. The Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which Dr. Levine directs, is charged with developing, manufacturing, and testing novel cell, gene, and biologic therapies being investigated in clinical trials at Penn, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and collaborating institutions.

This appointment and professorship establishment will be celebrated by Penn Medicine in January 2014.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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