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$10 million to Wistar from Ronald and Ellen Caplan
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$10 million to Wistar from Ronald and Ellen Caplan

The Wistar Institute has received the largest individual philanthropic gift ever and plans to use the donation to support its efforts to continue discovering promising cancer therapies.

The $10 million gift was made by Ronald Caplan, founder and president of PMC Property Group Inc., and his wife Ellen.

The donation will support Wistar’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, which will be renamed the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center of The Wistar Institute. The money, Wistar officials said, will also further Philadelphia’s growing recognition as a life sciences innovation hub.

“Despite recent progress, cancer is still a feared disease carrying enormous morbidity and mortality for patients and their families,” said Dr. Dario C. Altieri, Wistar’s president and CEO. “Ellen and Ron’s vision is to change that.”

Altieri said the Caplans’ gift will accelerate the pace of innovation and discovery at the nonprofit institute’s cancer research center and their efforts to find new ways to detect, treat and defeat cancer.

Ronald Caplan has been a member of the Wistar Institute’s Board of Trustees since 2009. In 2014, Ronald and Ellen Caplan donated the 200-seat high-tech Sarah and Matthew Caplan Auditorium in Wistar’s Robert and Penny Fox Tower. The Caplans named the auditorium for their children, according to the institute, with the hope that cancer’s cure would be found in their lifetime.

“Wistar scientists are some of the most dedicated, brilliant people we have ever met,” Ellen Caplan said in a statement provided by the institute. “Thanks to their incredible work, Wistar is the one place where every time Ron and I leave, we feel inspired.”

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