Newswise — PHILADELPHIA—(July 7, 2017)—The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, announces the appointment of Brian Keith, Ph.D., as Dean of Biomedical Studies. This new, strategic position will further Wistar’s educational mission to train scientists and continue priming workforce development programs and opportunities.

“Brian’s personal dedication to the cultivation of scientific talent and to the future of biomedical research is what makes him a perfect fit for Wistar,” said Dario Altieri, M.D., President and CEO of The Wistar Institute. “His deep understanding of Wistar’s distinctive character and values will allow him to develop a broad-ranging educational mission that reflects Wistar’s unique combination of outstanding science, focused research endeavors and streamlined administration.”

Keith will work with Wistar faculty to guide educational efforts at all levels of training, from high school students to postdoctoral fellows. These programs include the Summer Fellowship in Biomedical Research, an eight-week intensive program that introduces high school students to biomedical research as they work on active projects in the lab. Another program is the Biomedical Technician Training Program (BTT), which prepares Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) students for careers in academic or commercial research labs. In addition, the newly launched Biomedical Research Training Apprenticeship (BRT)—a spinoff from the BTT Program—offers longer internships and additional on-the-job training. BRT is the first registered, nontraditional apprenticeship program to offer students a pathway to become medical research technicians ratified by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, and is the first of its kind in the nation.

Keith is joining Wistar at a time of great growth across its STEM education programs. Both a teacher and scientist, he will bring his knowledge of and success in the field of biomedical research to shape a broad-based, impactful, and forward-looking vision for the educational mission of the Institute.

“The BTT and BRT Programs represent an inspiring model because of the combination of community engagement, rigorous scientific training, and effective mentoring,” said Keith. “My vision is to leverage the Institute’s signature attributes of a small, focused, collaborative faculty and state-of-the-art facilities into a unique training environment that will produce the next generation of leaders in life sciences research and innovation.”

Keith joins Wistar with more than 25 years of experience as a researcher, professor and educator. Most recently, he was an adjunct professor in the Department of Cancer Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; an adjunct professor in the Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences; Associate Director of Education for the Abramson Cancer Center in the Perelman School of Medicine; Associate Investigator for the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute; and Director of Education for the Sean Parker Institute. Prior to those appointments, Keith was a research associate in the Department of Medicine and assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago.

An active investigator, he holds National Institutes of Health funding on two separate cancer-related projects: combined HIF deficiency in inflammation-associated colorectal tumorigenesis and cancer cell adaptation to metabolic stress.

Keith received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University followed by a Ph.D. in plant molecular biology at The Rockefeller University. He completed his postdoctoral training in Arabidopsis and yeast genetics with Gerald R. Fink, Ph.D., at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2010 Keith received the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence from the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn. He was awarded the Excellence in Medical Education Award by Penn medical students in 2015, and received the 2016 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching in the Perelman School of Medicine. Most recently, he received the first-ever Cancer Biology Education Leadership Award from Penn’s Department of Cancer Biology.




The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.