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CRI Awards $29.3 Million to Fund Immunotherapies for All Kinds of Cancer

August 06, 2015

This fiscal year (July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015), the Cancer Research Institute committed more than $29.3 million in new funds to accelerate cancer immunology research and cancer immunotherapy clinical development, in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. The awards include:

  • 26 postdoctoral fellowships for young scientists who are bringing creative new insights and perspectives to the fields of immunology and tumor immunology
  • 13 Clinic and Laboratory Integration Program (CLIP) grants, which provide two years of support for translational laboratory investigation
  • 7 Clinical Strategy Team grants that will fund preclinical research necessary to generate innovative new combination immunotherapy clinical trial concepts
  • 4 Clinical Accelerator trial grants, including:
    • A phase I/II trial of intratumoral immunotherapy and checkpoint blockade in a variety of cancers
    • A phase I/II trial of a small molecule inhibitor or a vaccine, in combination with checkpoint blockade, in lung cancer
    • A clinical trial of immunotherapy following autologous stem cell therapy in multiple myeloma
    • An addendum to the phase I/II trial of an anti-PD-L1 antibody and a novel TLR8 agonist in ovarian cancer

With this support, CRI scientists are shedding light on some of the most important questions in cancer immunology, including the targeting of new immune checkpoints, imaging of the tumor immune microenvironment, immunosuppression and its part in the cancer immunity cycle, macrophages and their role in cancer immunotherapy, and the role of the microbiome in cancer development and progression.

Happy researching investigators!

$29.3 million
14 states
7 countries
41 institutions

Cancers include bladder, brain, breast, cervical, colorectal, cutaneous T cell lymphoma, head and neck, kidney, leukemia, lung, lymphoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, melanoma, multiple myeloma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, skin, sarcoma, and uterine

CRI Grantees (July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015)

CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowships

Najla Arshad, Ph.D., with Peter Cresswell, Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
The effect of tumor-associated mutant calreticulin on antigen presentation and tumorigenesis
Cancer(s): Multiple myeloma, leukemia

Will H. Bailis, Ph.D., with Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., FRS
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Identification and characterization of immune escape mechanisms in leukemia
Cancer(s): Leukemia

Jennifer K. Bando, Ph.D., with Marco Colonna, M.D.
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Immune modulation of dormant skin tumor development and persistence
Cancer(s): Skin cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, sarcoma, all cancers

Michael G. Constantinides, Ph.D., with Yasmine Belkaid, Ph.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Role of the microbiome in lung cancer
Cancer(s): Lung cancer

Leticia Corrales, Ph.D., with Thomas F. Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Study of the regulation of the STING/IFN-b pathway by the inflammasome/IL-1 pathway and its effect in the anti-tumor T cell response
Cancer(s): Melanoma, all cancers

Guoliang Cui, Ph.D., with Susan M. Kaech, Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
The influence of nutrient availability in the tumor microenvironment on CD8+ T cell survival and function
Cancer(s): Melanoma

Rony Dahan, Ph.D., with Jeffrey V. Ravetch, M.D., Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University, New York, NY
Enhancing monoclonal antibodies-mediated immune responses within the tumor microenvironment
Cancer(s): Melanoma, colorectal cancer, lymphoma, all cancers

P.C. Dave P. Dingal, Ph.D., with Lei Stanley Qi, Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
Programmable cancer recognition using a chimeric system of Notch and CRISPR
Cancer(s): All cancers

Sascha H. Duttke, Ph.D., with Christopher K. Glass, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Reprogramming macrophage phenotypes during immunosurveillance and neoplastic progression
Cancer(s): Pancreatic cancer, lung cancer

Ruth A. Franklin, Ph.D., with Ruslan Medzhitov, Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
The role of macrophages in tissue homeostasis and tumor progression
Cancer(s): Colon cancer

Yang Eric Guo, Ph.D., with Richard A. Young, Ph.D.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA
Biogenesis and regulatory functions of super-enhancer RNAs in cancer cells of the immune system
Cancer(s): Multiple myeloma, T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Wei Hu, Ph.D., with Alexander Y. Rudensky, Ph.D.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Tissue repair function of regulatory T cells during infection and cancer progression
Cancer(s): Breast cancer, lung cancer

Priya Darshinee A. Issuree, Ph.D., with Dan R. Littman, M.D., Ph.D.
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Roles of Runx3 in inflammatory T cells and colorectal cancer
Cancer(s): Colorectal cancer

Julia Kennedy-Darling, Ph.D., with Garry P. Nolan, Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
Spatially defined immune cell distribution within tumor microenvironments before and after PD-L1 inhibitor treatment
Cancer(s): Non-small cell lung cancer, kidney cancer, melanoma, head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, all cancers

Tuo Li, Ph.D., with Zhijian James Chen, Ph.D.
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Roles of mammalian cyclic dinucleotide signaling in cancer therapies
Cancer(s): All cancers, AIDS/HIV, HPV

Adam J. Litterman, Ph.D., with K. Mark Ansel, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
A global map of mRNA regulatory elements in CD8+ T cells
Cancer(s): All cancers

Olivia Majer, Ph.D., with Gregory M. Barton, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Dysregulated Toll-like receptor responses as an oncogenic driver
Cancer(s): Lymphoma, all cancers

Kathleen L. McGuire, Ph.D., with Arlene H. Sharpe, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
The role of the PD-1/PD-ligand pathway in anti-tumor immunity
Cancer(s): Colorectal cancer, melanoma

Claudia Ouyang, Ph.D., with Richard M. Siegel, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Non-apoptotic functions of the TNF-family receptor Fas: Mechanisms and implications for autoimmunity and tumor immunotherapy
Cancer(s): Melanoma, all cancers

Davalyn R. Powell, Ph.D., with Anna Huttenlocher, M.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
The role of neutrophils and CXCL8-CXCR1/2 signaling in glioblastoma cell invasion
Cancer(s): Brain cancer

Mohammad Rashidian, Ph.D., with Hidde L. Ploegh, Ph.D.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA
Non-invasive imaging of immune responses for early detection of cancer and to monitor immunotherapy
Cancer(s): Melanoma, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, all cancers

Vanessa K. Ridaura, Ph.D., with Yasmine Belkaid, Ph.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Understanding the contributions of the skin microbiota to efficacy of melanoma immunotherapy
Cancer(s): Melanoma, skin cancers

Heng Ru, Ph.D., with Hao Wu, Ph.D.
Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Structural and biochemical studies of the antigen receptor gene recombination machinery
Cancer(s): Leukemia, colorectal cancer

Shabnam Shalapour, Ph.D., with Michael Karin, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Development of immunosuppressive plasma cells that interfere with T cell-dependent immunogenic cancer chemotherapy
Cancer(s): Prostate cancer, solid tumors

Fella Tamzalit, Ph.D., with Morgan Huse, Ph.D.
Lloyd J. Old Memorial Fellow
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
The role of the centrosome in cytotoxic T cell function
Cancer(s): Leukemia, lymphoma, all cancers

Maria K. Traver, Ph.D., with Brian C. Schaefer, Ph.D.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Macroautophagic control of lymphocyte activation and proliferation
Cancer(s): Lymphoma, all cancers

Clinic and Laboratory Investigation Program (CLIP) Grants

Joshua Brody, M.D.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
Understanding a novel in situ lymphoma vaccine: Neoantigen discovery with whole exome sequencing and neo-antigen-reactive T cell checkpoint molecule profiling with CyTOF
Cancer(s): Lymphoma

John Carucci, M.D., Ph.D.
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Targeting the immune system to treat aggressive squamous cell carcinoma
Cancer(s): Skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)

Haidong Dong, M.D., Ph.D.
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Monitoring T cell responses during anti-PD-1 therapy
Cancer(s): Melanoma

Nir Hacohen, Ph.D.
Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA
Unbiased single cell analysis of the lung tumor microenvironment to understand failure modes of checkpoint blockade inhibitors
Cancer(s): Lung cancer

Holbrook Edwin Kohrt, M.D., Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
T cell biomarker development for effective immunotherapy for recurrent non-Hodgkin B cell lymphoma
Cancer(s): Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Roland S. Liblau, M.D., Ph.D.
INSERM UMR1043 - CNRS UMR5282 - Université Toulouse III, Toulouse, France
EVER proteins: Immune control of skin infection by beta-human papillomaviruses and skin cancer
Cancer(s): HPV, cervical cancer, skin cancer

Amanda Lund, Ph.D.
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
FasL expressing lymphatic vessels in melanoma
Cancer(s): Melanoma

Ferry A. Ossendorp, Ph.D.
Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
Novel vaccine nanoformulations for clinical mutanome-based cancer immunotherapy
Cancer(s): Ovarian cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, solid tumors

David M. Owens, Ph.D.
Columbia University, New York, NY
Therapeutic targeting of intrinsic T cell suppression during anti-tumor immunity
Cancer(s): Solid tumors, skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)

Stephen P. Schoenberger, Ph.D.
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, CA
Exome-guided neoantigen discovery and validation in HNSCC
Cancer(s): Head and neck cancer

Craig L. Slingluff Jr., M.D.
University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA
Retention integrins: Induction and function on cancer-reactive T lymphocytes
Cancer(s): Melanoma

Daniel E. Speiser, M.D.
University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Identification and validation of new targets for cancer immunotherapy in “exhausted” anti-cancer CD8+ T cells from mice and humans
Cancer(s): Melanoma

Jose A. Villadangos, Ph.D.
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Characterization and prevention of “stunning,” a cytotoxic T lymphocyte inactivating program that impairs adoptive cell therapy against cancer
Cancer(s): Lymphoma, leukemia

Clinical Accelerator—Clinical Strategy Teams

Team Leads: Nina Bhardwaj, M.D., Ph.D., and Sacha Gnjatic, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
The mutation-derived tumor landscape of advanced bladder cancer: A platform to optimize cancer immunotherapy
Cancer(s): Bladder cancer

Team Lead: John Herr, Ph.D., University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA
Investigator(s): Robert H. Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Jamal Zweit, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Immunotherapeutic targeting cell surface neoantigen SAS1B (Ovastacin, ASTL)
Cancer(s): Ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer

Team Leads: Hideho Okado, M.D., Ph.D., and Lawrence Fong, M.D., University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Investigator(s): Carl H. June, M.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Pawel Kalinski, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Kunle Odunsi, M.D., Ph.D., Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY
Enhancing T cell homing to solid cancers by stimulating proper chemokines
Cancer(s): Brain cancer, colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer

Team Lead: Andrew Sikora, M.D., Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Investigator(s): Sacha Gnjatic, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY; Christine Chung, M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; Nham Tran, Ph.D., University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Targeting the tumor immune microenvironment to enhance immune-stimulating effects of chemoradiotherapy
Cancer(s): Head and neck cancer

Team Lead: Mark Smyth, Ph.D., QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Australia
Investigator(s): Scott J. Antonia, M.D., Ph.D., Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL; Georgina V. Long, Ph.D., M.B.B.S., and Richard Scolyer, M.B.B.S., M.D., Melanoma Institute of Australia and University of Sydney, Australia; John Stagg, Ph.D., University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
Targeting adenosine in the tumor microenvironment
Cancer(s): Melanoma, triple-negative breast cancer, prostate cancer, head and neck cancer, urothelial cancers, lung cancer

Team Leads: Hassane Zarour, M.D., and John M. Kirkwood, M.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Targeting multiple inhibitory receptors in cancer patients
Cancer(s): Melanoma, colon cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, triple-negative breast cancer

Team Lead: Lei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Tipping the balance in the tumor microenvironment as a next generation platform for pancreatic cancer immunotherapy
Cancer(s): Pancreatic cancer

Clinical Accelerator—Clinical Trials

Nina Bhardwaj, M.D., Ph.D., and Craig L. Slingluff Jr., M.D.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY; University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA
A phase I/II trial of intratumoral immunotherapy and checkpoint blockade in certain cancers (90 patients)
Cancer(s): Head and neck cancer, breast cancer, sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, cutaneous T cell lymphoma, melanoma, genitourinary cancers (bladder/kidney/prostate)

Leena Gandhi, M.D., Ph.D.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
A phase I/II trial of a small molecule inhibitor or a vaccine, in combination with checkpoint blockade, in lung cancer (162 patients)
Cancer(s): Non-small cell lung cancer

George Coukos, M.D., Ph.D.
University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
A phase I/II study of chemo-immunotherapy with Toll-like receptor 8 agonist VTX-2337, pegylated liposomal doxorubicin, and PD-L1 antibody MEDI4736 in recurrent, platinum-resistant epithelial ovarian or primary peritoneal cancer (addendum to original award made in fiscal 2014)
Cancer(s): Ovarian cancer

Alexander M. Lesokhin, M.D., and Hearn J. Cho, M.D., Ph.D.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
A clinical trial of immunotherapy following autologous stem cell therapy in multiple myeloma (24 patients)
Cancer(s): Multiple myeloma

Designated Grants

George Klein, M.D.
Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
Supported jointly by the Concern Foundation
Studies on Epstein-Barr virus, oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, tumor immunology, and inhibition of tumor cell growth by stroma cells
Cancer(s): All cancers

Malcolm A.S. Moore, D.Phil.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Supported by the Gar Reichman Fund of the Cancer Research Institute
The study of hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor populations in normal and cancer cells
Cancer(s): Leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, sarcoma

Timothy N.J. Bullock, Ph.D.
University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA
Supported jointly by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and Melanoma Research Alliance
Enhancing immune therapy for brain metastases with focused ultrasound
Cancer(s): Melanoma, brain metastases

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