A Message from Jean-Pierre Issa, MD
Director, Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology
The Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology 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.