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CRI Wins Big in Annual Cancer Awards

March 04, 2014 | Matthew Tontonoz

Each year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) presents awards to the individuals who have done the most to advance cancer research and treatment. This year’s recipients include two of CRI’s own.

Jedd D. Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council, chair of CRI’s clinical program, and a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has been awarded the 38th Annual AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award. The highly coveted award recognizes young researchers who have made notable contributions to improving cancer treatments. Wolchok is being recognized for his work in determining the clinical effectiveness of the checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab (anti-CTLA-4), the first treatment ever proven in a phase 3 clinical study to extend the lives of patients with advanced melanoma.

“The translation of cutting-edge basic science findings into improved therapeutic options for patients is clearly a vital priority,” said Wolchok. “I am thrilled to be recognized for my efforts and applaud the AACR and Rosenthal Family Foundation for their focus on efforts to enhance and improve clinical cancer care.”

Wolchok’s current work is geared toward testing ipilimumab in combination with other promising checkpoint blockade therapies, such as nivolumab (anti-PD-1). He is principal investigator of several important clinical trials with these agents. 

The other big winner of the day is Robert D. Schreiber, Ph.D., associate director of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council, chair of CRI’s Clinic and Laboratory Integration Program Review Committee, and director of the Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. Schreiber was chosen to receive the second annual AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology.

The award was established in 2013 in honor of the late Lloyd J. Old, M.D., who is considered the “Father of Modern Tumor Immunology,” and was a longtime medical director of CRI. The award is intended to recognize a cancer immunologist who, like Old, has had a far-reaching impact on the field. It is given jointly by AACR and CRI.

Schreiber is being recognized for work that helped resuscitate the immunosurveillance concept—the idea that the immune system constantly fights against cancer—and for developing the cancer immunoediting concept, which integrates the tumor combatting and tumor promoting aspects the immune system. Schreiber’s current area of research focuses on using genomics approaches to define tumor specific antigens. This approach helps pave the way for personalized cancer immunotherapies.

Said Schreiber, “This award is particularly meaningful to me because it bears the name of Lloyd J. Old, who so significantly influenced the course of my career by getting me interested in the field of cancer immunology.”

Both scientists will receive their awards at the annual AACR meeting to be held in San Diego, CA, April 5-9, where they will also give a plenary lecture. 
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