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Research at Fox Chase

Sanjeevani Arora of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program is researching the effectiveness of treatments for colorectal cancer. She is shown here at the microscope used to identify the Philadelphia chromosome at Fox Chase in 1959, the first conclusive evidence linking cancer and genetics.Sanjeevani Arora of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program is researching the effectiveness of treatments for colorectal cancer. She is shown here at the microscope used to identify the Philadelphia chromosome at Fox Chase in 1959, the first conclusive evidence linking cancer and genetics.

Our Mission

As one of the four original cancer centers to receive comprehensive designation from the National Cancer Institute, Fox Chase Cancer Center has been at the forefront of cancer research for almost 90 years. We have world class programs in blood cell development and function, cancer prevention and control, cancer signaling and epigenetics, as well as molecular therapeutics. Our singular focus on cancer, which couples discovery science with state-of-the-art clinical care and population health, remains the foundation of our work.

Over 90 Years of Cancer Discovery

The Institute for Cancer Research was founded in 1926 under the direction of Dr. Stanley Reimann and would eventually become Fox Chase Cancer Center. The institute’s strong support of fundamental research fostered several seminal discoveries that shaped the future of cancer prevention and treatment.

Some well-known examples include the identification of the “Philadelphia Chromosome” as the genetic basis for cancer, which led to today’s targeted therapies for leukemia. Fox Chase Cancer Center is also the home of the discovery of the hepatitis B virus and development of a vaccine against it, which resulted in one of the two Nobel Prizes awarded to Fox Chase faculty. Other critical breakthroughs in identifying and characterizing tumor suppression, cellular signaling, reprogramming tumor cells, understanding genetic cancer risks, advances in radiotherapy, and many others have been discovered at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Under the current leadership of Cancer Center Director, Dr. Jonathan Chernoff, Fox Chase Cancer Center’s research efforts have been focused on the areas that best leverage the institution’s enhanced strengths in scientific development: translational research, precision medicine, epigenetics, signaling reprograming, immunotherapy, hematologic malignancies, and cancer disparities.

Broadening Opportunities

Fox Chase Cancer Center expanded its scope by merging with Temple University Health System’s oncology research, treatment, and prevention programs in 2012. Temple’s 52 faculty members bring considerable expertise in several critical areas, including molecular biology, cancer prevention and control, blood cell development and function, and cancer signaling and epigenetics. The affiliation with Temple also enables collaboration with several key centers of excellence, including the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research.

Serving the Northeast Philadelphia community is an important part of the center’s mission. Through its affiliation with Temple University Health System, Fox Chase enhanced its access to the underserved minority population of Philadelphia County. Programs including the Center for Asian Health, a cancer prevention and control network, and the Temple Health Block by Block (THB3) Program actively engage with the surrounding communities. These organizations provide education and address the health concerns of North Philadelphians to better understand their needs and gather information to promote research studies.

Recent Discoveries and Developments

The center continues to lead the field with seminal scientific discoveries that have key translational implications. In the past five years, we have:

  • Discovered a new mechanism for drug resistance in ovarian cancer
  • Demonstrated immune selection of oncogenic mutations
  • Pinpointed the role of cholesterol in modulated pancreatic cancer aggressiveness
  • Identified epigenetic control of extrachromosomal EGFR amplification
  • Revealed the importance of immunotherapy in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, leading to the FDA approval of nivolumab
  • Discovered repretinib for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)
  • Increased cervical cancer screening rates among underserved populations

We continue to improve research facilities including the renovation of the Laboratory Animal Facility, and enhanced capital resources in the Biological Imaging Facility, Cell Sorting Facility, Biosample Repository, and Histopathology Facility. Several institutes and initiatives have been established in the center: the Marvin and Concetta Greenberg Pancreatic Cancer Institute, the Cancer Epigenetics Institute, and the Cancer Kinome Initiative.

Fox Chase Cancer Center has a long and storied history of breakthrough research and a unique focus on cancer research and care. This long Fox Chase tradition – what some call the “Fox Chase Way” – lives on, as evidenced by the Center’s continued ability to recruit extraordinarily talented scientists and to provide these investigators with the environment they need to make fundamentally important discoveries.

Research and Development Alliances

The professionals at Fox Chase promote collaborative pre-clinical and clinical research relationships between corporate sponsors and Fox Chase’s academic investigators, high-level strategic partnerships with industry when appropriate, and assist health care partners through Fox Chase International as they pursue opportunities in areas such as healthcare professional traiing, healthcare growth initiatives, and patient care.

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