Dr. Brian C. Capell

PHILADELPHIA – Brian C. Capell, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a core faculty member of the Penn Epigenetics Institute, and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center, has been awarded a prestigious Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award for 2018. The award comes with a $450,000 unrestricted research grant over three years. Capell will use the funds to continue his research into epigenetic targets in the skin, specifically in hopes of developing effective therapies for squamous cell carcinoma – a common form of cancer that most often develops in the skin. Capell is one of just six researchers in the United States to receive the award this year.

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation selects the Clinical Investigator Award winners at its spring 2018 Clinical Investigator Award Committee review. The recipients are outstanding early career physician-scientists conducting patient-oriented cancer research at major research centers under the mentorship of the nation’s leading scientists and clinicians.

The Clinical Investigator Award program is specifically intended to help address the shortage of physicians capable of translating scientific discovery into new breakthroughs for cancer patients. Capell’s research examines epigenetic markers in the skin to understand their function and to see how they differ in healthy, sun-damaged, and cancerous skin. The long-term goal is to clearly define the role of these markers and to understand how they change as skin is further damage, then to ultimately use that knowledge to identify targets for topical skin cancer treatments.

“We are thrilled to continue to fund high-quality, patient-focused research like the work proposed by Dr. Capell,” said Yung S. Lie, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer at Damon Runyon. “This award will help him continue to develop his cancer research program, which has the potential to make an impact in a cutting edge area of the cancer field.”

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has committed nearly $63 million to support the careers of 99 physician-scientists across the United States since 2000, including three researchers at Penn.


Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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