Tomasz Skorski, MD, PhD, DSc
Director, Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine
Professor, Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine
Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
The Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine was founded in 1933 by Philadelphia industrialist and philanthropist Samuel S. Fels, who was President of Fels & Company, manufacturer of the vastly popular household soap, Fels Naptha. As part of his philanthropic mission, he founded the Samuel S. Fels Fund as a nonprofit corporation in 1935. The general purpose of the Fund was to "initiate and to assist any activities or projects of a scientific, educational or charitable nature which tend to improve human daily life and to bring to the average person greater health, happiness, and a fuller understanding of the meaning and purposes of life." During the Institute's early years, financial support was derived almost entirely from the Fels Fund.
The Institute's first director was Dr. Harry Shay. Under his leadership and that of successive directors Sidney Weinhouse, Emmauel Farber, Peter Magee, Carlo Croce and E. Premkumar Reddy, the Fels Institute has grown considerably in size with a progressively increasing proportion of support from the National Institutes of Health. Currently, policies and programs are oriented toward research and training in cancer-related basic biological and biochemical sciences, with progressive extension into the areas of molecular, developmental and chemical biology to advance knowledge of the etiology and pathogenesis of cancer. A major goal of the Institute is to utilize the advances made in basic science programs to develop novel targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer.
In addition to conducting basic and clinical research, Fels faculty actively participate in graduate, medical, dental and podiatric school teaching. All research faculty participate in the new integrated Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.
Historically, the Fels Institute has played a critical role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge. The Institute was the home of the American Association for Cancer Research and the journal Cancer Research until 1991.
The Fels Institute is organized as a group of laboratories lead by individual investigators. A major goal of the institute is to foster independence among investigators while promoting innovations and collaboration between them.
Message from the Director
Welcome to the Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine, a place where we never, never give up on our mission to cure cancer.
Since taking over as the Director, my single focus has been to make Fels the best place for both young and experienced scientists do research that is directly applicable to patient care. Our team is centered around the idea of using personalized medicine to cure various types of cancer. We believe that for every patient with cancer there is a unique treatment based on the genetic and epigenetic characteristics of that cancer. Our job is to find it and apply it in the clinic.
To accomplish this, we draw on expertise of our faculty in various fields of research, because we know that diversity of thought and approach is the key to success. Our talented team studies the effects of cancer-inducing mutations on the DNA damage response, proliferation, senescence and apoptosis in normal and cancer cells to identify pathways which make the cancer cells vulnerable to treatment while sparing normal tissues. Using the latest next generation DNA and RNA sequencing technologies at single cell level paired with robust bioinformatics capabilities, we can pinpoint the genetic and epigenetic traits of individual tumor cell clones of a patient and design treatment strategies to trigger synthetic lethality in each of them while sparing normal cells, a strategy we invented and called the clonal attack. Our state-of-the-art facilities support our vast array of novel animal models where we test our hypotheses in proof-of-concept and pre-clinical studies. Through our therapeutics program and in collaboration with Moulder Center for Drug Discovery at Temple University School of Pharmacy, we are developing new targeted therapies based on our discoveries and collaborate with clinicians from Fox Chase Cancer Center and other institutions to bring them into the clinic.
Whether you are a senior or junior faculty, post-doctoral fellow or student, I am thrilled that you are here, and I hope we will succeed together.