To assist scientists and clinicians working at the forefront of cancer research, the Basser Center for BRCA provides grant funding opportunities for researchers working on BRCA1 and BRCA2-related projects and awards an annual global prize honoring highly influential in the field. These funding opportunities are unique in that they are available for both research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and externally to investigators at other institutions. The Basser Center is also home to a yearly scientific symposium, held every spring, and a monthly seminar series led by prominent local researchers.

Basser Scientific Symposium

“BRCA1, BRCA2 and Beyond: An Update on Hereditary Cancer” is the Basser Center’s annual scientific symposium that began in 2013 and is held every May in Philadelphia. The event features scientists and clinical experts from around the world and focuses on recent and ongoing advances in research and clinical management of BRCA carriers. In addition to a series of presentations from leading scientists, the winner of the year’s Basser Global Prize delivers the keynote address.

Presentation at the Basser Scientific Symposium

Basser Grants

A key function of the Basser Center is to provide grant funding to investigators dedicated to making progress with projects relevant to BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations ranging from basic science and translational research to clinical trials meant to enhance the well-being and care of those living with BRCA1/2 gene mutations. These grants fund both internal research conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and innovative external proposals, with an emphasis on collaborative projects, and typically apply to topics like prevention, early detection, and therapeutics.

Basser Global Prize

Established and endowed by Shari Basser Potter and Len Potter, the Basser Global Prize honors and provides $100,000 in support to a visionary scientist conducting innovative BRCA1/2-related research that has resulted in improvements in clinical care. The annual winner is selected from a pool of researchers worldwide and presents the keynote address at the Basser Scientific Symposium.

Basser Global Prize award

Monthly Seminar Series

The Basser Center holds a monthly seminar series presented by Penn investigators, as well as occasional speakers from other institutions, on a wide range of BRCA1/2-related topics. Held at noon on the first Friday of the month in the Smilow Translational Research Center, these seminars explore everything from advances in basic science to screening and treatment methods, hot topics in cancer research, gene sequencing, legal issues, and national healthcare concerns.*

Upcoming Seminars:
  • January 4, 2019 with Ken Zaret, PhD, in in SCTR 08-146AB
  • February 1, 2019 with Barry Taylor, PhD (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center faculty member), in in SCTR 08-146AB
  • March 1, 2019 with Sydney Shaffer, PhD, in in SCTR 08-146AB 
  • April 5, 2019 with David W. Speicher, PhD, in in SCTR 08-146AB
  • May 3, 2019 with Kara Maxwell, MD, PhD, in in SCTR 08-146AB
  • June 7, 2019 with Karen Knudsen, PhD (Director, Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson)


* This internal series is open to Penn faculty and staff.

Research resources

To further the possibilities among researchers, the Basser Center has made available an inventory of cell lines, reagents, and data for use by Penn investigators. Materials and data can be requested using your Pennkey and password.