FDA Approved! How Philanthropy Made It Possible

“This is the most exciting thing I've seen in my lifetime.” “A major advance ushering in a new era.” These are just a few of the praiseworthy comments from the advisory committee just weeks before the Food and Drug Administration granted approval to Novartis of Kymriah™, Penn Medicine’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy—the first of its kind—for pediatric and young adult leukemia. The groundbreaking process was developed by Penn’s Carl June, MD, and his team, along with physicians from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Philanthropy played an invaluable role in helping to launch immunotherapy research at Penn. June and members of his lab were recruited here through resources from the initial gift from Madlyn and Leonard Abramson establishing the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. As June’s research progressed, Barbara and the late Edward Netter provided further essential funding through the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy to advance the immunotherapy clinical trials.

You’re invited to become part of this historic journey to end cancer. To learn more, please contact Tricia Bruning at 215-898-0578 or tbruning@upenn.edu.

We are grateful for Penn Medicine’s visionary donors who have supported endowed professorships.  With this funding, our scientists can continue the type of high-risk, high-reward research that leads to life-changing discoveries―and nowhere is this more evident than in our history-making work in developing CAR T therapy.

While many of these endowed chairs honor donors or memorialize family members, all of them promote the free flow of ideas that lead to breakthroughs and, ultimately, better health. Below are four of our endowed chair-holders and their benefactors who, together, are making a tremendous impact in the soaring field of immunotherapy.

Richard W. Vague Professor of Immunotherapy

Donor Richard Vague with chairholder Carl H. June, MD


Barbara and Edward Netter Professor of Cancer Gene Therapy

Donor Barbara Netter with chairholder Bruce L. Levine, PhD


Jodi Fisher Horowitz Professor in Leukemia Care Excellence

Chair donors the late Jerome Fisher with his wife, Anne; chairholder David L. Porter, MD; grateful patient Doug Olson; and donors Lydia and George Weiss

Richard and Barbara Schiffrin President’s Distinguished Professor

Chairholder E. John Wherry, PhD, with donors Richard and Barbara Schiffrin

Ray Perelman: An Outstanding Penn Citizen Turns 100

August 22 marked the 100th birthday of noted Penn citizen and Center City resident Raymond G. Perelman, one of Philadelphia’s most prominent businessmen and active philanthropists. 

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Perelman was born in Philadelphia in 1917. After attending Wharton and serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, he began his career at his family’s American Paper Products Company, and later became a billionaire through savvy investments in steel manufacturing and other areas. A number of his children and grandchildren have attended Penn, including his son, Ron, an active University philanthropist.

In 2011, Ray Perelman and his late wife, Ruth, made a $225 million naming gift for the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, which stands as the University’s largest gift ever. Additional philanthropy includes $25 million to help build the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Penn’s state-of-the-art outpatient facility. The couple endowed a professorship—the first to support a full-time clinician in internal medicine. For his extraordinary works at Penn, Ray, a Penn Medicine trustee from 2002-2012, has received many accolades, including Penn’s Medal for Distinguished Achievement. The University also granted him an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2014.

Ray Perelman has championed organizations throughout Philadelphia, including the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Day School, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

And so we honor Ray’s contributions, salute his longevity, and thank him for his continued devotion to Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine Builds Toward a Healthier City

With a birds-eye view of the construction site and the Philadelphia skyline beyond, the city and region’s future was in sight at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking. Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney congratulated Penn leadership on the $1.5-billion inpatient tower, the Pavilion, and called the May celebration a “banner” day for the city.

“The University and its health system are a critical part of the city’s DNA, our identity, and our workforce,” said Mayor Kenney, shining a spotlight on the Pavilion’s importance to not just Penn Medicine’s patients, but to the health of the entire region.

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