Wistar Institute Professor Named First Koprowski Professor

December 21, 1998

Philadelphia - The Wistar Institute Board of Managers recently approved the appointment of Professor Giorgio Trinchieri, M.D., as Wistar's first Hilary Koprowski Endowed Professor.

The Hilary Koprowski Endowed Professorship, which is the Institute's first, was established jointly in 1998 through The Wistar Institute Science Trust Fund, whose members include Christopher Koprowski, Kathleen Scott and William Levy, and The Wistar Institute, which provided matching funds.

Designed to honor outstanding scientists at The Wistar Institute, the endowed professorship is named for Dr. Hilary Koprowski, an eminent virologist and immunologist who was Wistar's Director from 1957 until 1991.

"I recruited Dr. Trinchieri in 1975 and had the pleasure of witnessing his achievements in the field of immunology," said Dr. Koprowski. "Today, it is my pleasure that my name is associated with this outstanding scientist who has a very bright future ahead of him."

Dr. Trinchieri has served as head of Wistar's Immunology Program for the past seven years. In 1996, he was awarded the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Clinical Immunology, one of the highest honors in the field of immunology, for his discovery of Interleukin-12 (IL-12).

"Being awarded the Hilary Koprowski Chair at The Wistar Institute has very special meaning for me," said Dr. Trinchieri. "Hilary Koprowski has contributed so much to my scientific formation, giving me continuous scientific and intellectual support and allowing me to develop my scientific program in an environment of scientific excellence and collegiality. My wish is that this chair will be the first of a series of chairs that will recognize the scientific excellence of many outstanding scientists at Wistar."

Dr. Trinchieri came to Wistar 23 years ago. Prior to his arrival, he was a member of the faculty at the Basel Institute of Immunology in Switzerland, and an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Torino (Italy) School of Medicine.

Along with his position at Wistar, Dr. Trinchieri is a visiting professor at the Faculté de Mèdicine in Paris Sud, France, a Wistar Institute Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the executive committee of the University's Institute of Gene Therapy.

He also is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council and Fellowship Committee of the Cancer Research Institute in New York. He also sits on the editorial boards of many scientific journals and serves on several federal review committees.

Dr. Trinchieri's main research goal is to understand how inborn disease resistance and adaptive immunity work together to establish defenses against disease. His early work focused on Natural Killer (NK) cells, which destroy infected and cancerous cells and influence the outcome of adaptive immunity. In 1989, his laboratory discovered IL-12, which is produced within a few hours of infection. IL-12 activates NK cells and plays a key role in regulating human resistance and the immune response to various infections, including HIV.

The biological properties of IL-12 imply it may also be useful as an adjuvant in vaccination and as an anti-tumor agent. Clinical trials are being conducted to determine if IL-12 awakens immune responses that are sluggish and ineffective in cancer patients and causes tumor annihilation and resistance to relapse.

The Wistar Institute, established in 1892, was the first independent medical research facility in the country. For more than 100 years, Wistar scientists have been making history and improving world health through their development of vaccines for diseases that include rabies, German measles, infantile gastroenteritis (rotavirus), and cytomegalovirus; discovery of molecules like interleukin-12, which are helping the immune system fight bacteria, parasites, viruses and cancer; and location of genes that contribute to the development of diseases like breast, lung and prostate cancer. Wistar is a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.

The Wistar Institute

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