The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia marks its 100th anniversary this year, but the mood at the nation's oldest independent biomedical research facility is hardly jubilant.

The institute has been in turmoil for the last year, after the abrupt ouster of longtime director Hilary Koprowski, the famed virologist and immunologist who transformed Wistar from a dilapidated museum into a world-renowned research center. The commotion recently was stirred up further, when the 75-year-old Koprowski filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that Wistar had retired him from the directorship because of his age. "I am in perfect shape," says Koprowski, who remains active at the institute, where he has lifelong tenure as an Institute Professor. "I can run the institute, and there was absolutely no reason to remove me because of age."

Koprowski's successor as Wistar's director is oncologist Giovanni Rovera, 51, who concedes that the current upheaval may be painful for...

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