Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



CRI Hosts 2023 Annual Awards Dinner, Bestows Coley and Alt Awards on Immunotherapy Giants 

The Cancer Research Institute hosted its 2023 Annual Awards Dinner at the University Club of New York on November 6, 2023. 

NEW YORK — On November 6, 2023, the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) hosted its 2023 Annual Awards Dinner at The University Club of New York. The evening served as a celebration of CRI’s 70 years of discovery in cancer immunotherapy and the achievements of scientists in the field of immuno-oncology and immunotherapy. 

CRI CEO and Director of Scientific Affairs, Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, kicked off the night with a word of thanks to all who have played a part in CRI’s tenured history as a pioneer and leader in the field. 

“As we stand at the precipice of the next chapter of cancer immunotherapy, we do so with a deep sense of optimism and gratitude,” Dr. O’Donnell-Tormey told the crowd that consisted of board members, Scientific Advisory Council members, CRI-funded fellows, donors, and CRI staff.  

A commemorative video celebrating the journey of CRI since its founding in 1953 was then unveiled by CRI Co-Chairman of the Board, Paul C. Shiverick.  

The 2023 Frederick W. Alt Award was presented to Dr. Ananda Goldrath. She currently serves as the Executive Vice President and Director of the Allen Institute for Immunology in Seattle. Before joining the Allen Institute for Immunology, Dr. Goldrath spent 19 years at UC San Diego where she was a Tata Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Biological Sciences in the Molecular Biology Department. Dr. Goldrath is a global authority in immune memory and was recognized for her groundbreaking work on T cell homeostasis and the mechanisms of memory T cell differentiation. The award was presented by CRI Scientific Advisory Council member Dr. Lewis Lanier.  

CRI Scientific Advisory Council member Dr. Lewis Lanier presents the 2023 Frederick W. Alt Award to Dr. Ananda Goldrath.

“For me, this is a very personal fight,” said Dr. Goldrath upon receiving the Alt award. “I lost someone very close to me. We had a stage 3b melanoma diagnosis very early on, and there was nothing to be done. Fifteen years later, it’s a completely different story. Funding the fundamentals of how the immune system works, taking it apart and seeing how it works, has been funded for many years by  CRI. And it’s led to changes,” she concluded.  

The 2023 William B. Coley Award was presented to Dr. Tak W. Mak, Director of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at the University Health Network Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Dr. Mak was recognized for his seminal work to clone the T cell receptor. His work has served as the bedrock for the development of T cell therapies and CAR-T therapy, offering hope and new possibilities in the realm of cancer treatment. The award was presented by CRI Scientific Advisory Council associate director, Dr. Ellen Puré.   

CRI Scientific Advisory Council associate director Dr. Ellen Puré presents the 2023 William B. Coley Award to Dr. Tak  Mak.

After quoting Voltaire, Dr. Mak continued his acceptance speech, saying “CRI is here and will continue the fight. I am very much indebted to what CRI has done for me and my laboratory in my pursuit to sail in a new direction — to try not to change the wind but to change the sails.”  

CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR, Amanda Lund, PhD, an associate professor at NYU Langone Health, gave a brief presentation on how her lab is focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms that govern lymphatic/immune interactions in melanoma and skin cancer in order to identify targeted interventions to tune lymphatic transport and impact immune responses against developing tumors.   

CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR Dr. Amanda Lund gives a presentation on the work her lab is doing with support from CRI.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Lund said, “the work that we are doing with the support of the Cancer Research Institute is providing a completely new framework for how we think about the lymphatic system.”  

After dessert CRI Co-Chairman of the Board, Andrew Tsai, discussed what’s on the horizon for the organization, specifically the integration of big data in the field of immunology.   

“We need to make sense of this data, within what we already know about cancer immunology,” Tsai said. “We need to marry data science, bioinformatics, and immunology together. This intersection is where CRI wants to play a significant role going forward.”  


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