Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

  • PCRC Team at PurpleStride November 4, 2017 (Kneeling in front row, PCRC Director Dr. Ben Z. Stanger and team captain Trish Gambino, RN)

  • Murine pancreatic tumor with cancer cells stained in green (YFP), nuclei in blue (DAPI) and collagen in purple - Captured by Nicole Aiello (Stanger Lab)

  • The PCRC Team at The Lustgarten Foundation walk November 6, 2016 in Pennsauken, NJ

  • Pancreatic tumor cells stained for YFP (cyan), E - Cadherin (red), Cytokeratin-19 (green), with nuclei counterstained with DAPI (blue) - Amine Sahmoud (Stanger Lab)

  • Pancreatic cancer cells dividing (light blue), 40x magnification - captured by David Bajor (Vonderheide Lab)

Welcome to the Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center!

The Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center (PCRC) is committed to delivering high-quality care for patients with pancreatic cancer. We take a multidisciplinary approach — integrating Medical Oncology, Surgery, Gastroenterology, Radiation Oncology, and Pathology — to deliver comprehensive and personalized options to our patients.

The American Cancer Society has reported that in 2018 pancreatic cancer became the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., surpassing breast cancer (see Cancer Statistics). One encouraging piece of this report is that the five-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer has moved to 10* percent (from 5 percent several years ago). At the Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center (PCRC), we understand the urgent need to develop better treatments and cures for patients.

*Rates are adjusted for normal life expectancy and are based on cases diagnosed in the SEER 9 areas from 2009 to 2015, followed through 2016 (table 7).

Virtual PurpleStride — November 7, 2020

We hope you can join us at this year's Virtual PurpleStride Event, hosted by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, on Saturday, November 7! Click here to view our team, and we hope you will consider contributing whatever you are able. Thank you all for your continued support!

AACR 2020 Virtual Special Conference for Pancreatic Cancer — September 29-30, 2020 

This will be the 7th annual AACR meeting that is devoted to Pancreatic Cancer. This meeting will showcase many of the cutting-edge discoveries and promising advances in the understanding and treatment of pancreatic cancer. The sessions topics will cover all aspects of understanding pancreatic cancer, from basic research findings to evidence-based clinical trials. Our own Dr. Ben Stanger will be a co-chair for the event. For more information, please click here.

Beatty lab probes the molecular basis of liver metastasis

Pancreatic cancers frequently metastasize to the liver, and a new study from the Beatty laboratory shows that hepatocytes – the major cell type in the liver – plays a role in the process. Using a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, first author Jae Lee found that in animals with pancreatic tumors, hepatocytes had increased levels of the STAT3 molecule, which in turn caused them produce another protein, SAA, leading to enhanced metastasis. The study suggests that it may be possible to block this chain of events, reducing the overall burden of metastasis in the disease. Read more about it here.

Philadelphia Inquirer Feature

PCRC Researchers Drs. Kim Reiss-Binder and Mark O'Hara are featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer for leading studies that show exciting potential in combating Pancreatic Cancer. Read the article here.

Promising Clinical Data presented at AACR Meeting 2019

PCRC Researcher Mark O’Hara, M.D. presented exciting Phase 1 data regarding treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer with combination immunotherapy (Gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel, CD40 agonist, PD-1 antagonist). Watch the webcast here.

Wellen laboratory identifies new links between metabolic pathways and tumor growth

The Kras oncogene, which is mutated in the vast majority of pancreatic tumors, promotes cancer cell growth by activating a variety of signaling pathways. In this paper from Carrer and colleagues in Katy Wellen’s laboratory in the Abramson Cancer Center, the authors identify an increase in the abundance of an essential metabolite – acetyl-CoA – as a mechanism by which Kras promotes tumor formation. These studies provide a rationale for targeting the enzymes that supply tumor cells with abundant acetyl-CoA as a future approach to treating pancreatic cancer patients. Read more about it here.

November Marks Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

As researchers and clinicians in the Penn PCRC, we honor survivors, patients, and caregivers and strive to offer Hope at All Stages.

Feature Articles

PCRC Researchers have been featured in two articles in Let's Win! Pancreatic Cancer. Most recently, PCRC Oncologist Dr. Kim Reiss-Binder for her work on PARP inhibitors, and PCRC Director Dr. Ben Z. Stanger for his work on "hot" and "cold" tumors.

Research Advances

Shown below are four journal covers created by our researchers featuring recent work.

The laboratories of Erica Carpenter and David Issadore have been developing new ways of extracting molecular information about pancreatic tumors from the blood:

Work from the laboratories of Anil Rustgi and Ben Stanger shows how tumor plasticity (the ability of tumor cells to adopt new features) influences metastasis in pancreatic cancer:

Work from the laboratories of Robert Vonderheide and Ben Stanger probes the molecular wiring of tumors that renders them sensitive or resistant to immune therapies (Penn Press Release):

For more of our published research, see the Publications page:

Information for clinical trials

We believe in the power of clinical trials in caring for patients and conquering this disease.
For more information, click here.

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