News Release
February 16, 2016

Novartis-Penn Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Unveiled at Penn Medicine

Research and Development Facility Aims to Expand Progress in Personalized Cellular Therapies for Cancer

PHILADELPHIA -- Physicians, scientists and leaders from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the global pharmaceutical company Novartis will gather Tuesday evening to unveil the Novartis-Penn Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics (CACT). Located on Penn Medicine’s campus amidst both clinical care and laboratory facilities, the CACT is poised to become an epicenter for research and early development of personalized cellular therapies for cancer, expanding on Penn’s groundbreaking research using Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) technology, which enables a patient’s own immune cells to be reprogrammed outside of their body and re-infused to hunt for and potentially destroy their tumors.

“In only a few years, we have generated significant achievements that have moved the field of personalized cellular therapies forward, opening clinical trials to test these treatments not only for patients with blood cancers, but also those with solid tumors,” said Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. “The CACT will allow us to leverage this progress to develop and test new approaches more quickly and expand our ability to manufacture personalized cell therapies for a greater number of trials.”

The new facility is a marquee component of Penn's translational science efforts to expedite the development of novel therapies for many types of disease. The collaboration with Novartis was announced in August 2012, when the two organizations entered an exclusive global research and licensing agreement to further study and commercialize novel CAR therapies. The CACT was constructed in part through a $20 million investment from Novartis, and will employ 100 highly specialized cell therapy professionals working across 23,610 square feet of laboratory and cell therapy manufacturing space.

“The opening of the Novartis-Penn Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics is a significant milestone in our collaboration with Penn,” said Mark C. Fishman, MD, President of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “It is our hope that discoveries will be made at this facility that could one day lead to new medicines to help cancer patients around the world.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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