Cancer Research Institute Media Room




Two Leading Cancer Nonprofits Join Forces To Tackle Colorectal Cancer With Immunotherapy

Immunology is a promising area of cancer research that has delivered powerfully effective new treatments that, in some patients, achieve cure-like responses; however, progress in colorectal cancer immunotherapy has been limited. A groundbreaking collaboration is under way between Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) to jumpstart this research, thanks to a generous donation in memory of Gordon Cole.

On December 2, the two organizations will bring together over 20 global experts in immunotherapy, GI oncology and basic science in New York City for a discussion on the current state of science and the future direction of immunotherapy research for colorectal cancer therapies. A white paper, Evaluating the role of immunotherapy: Addressing the potential for breakthrough treatments for colorectal cancer, will be released in April 2016 following the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting.

“Bringing together colorectal cancer-specific experts like those at Fight CRC with immunotherapy experts at CRI is crucial to addressing an unmet need in colorectal cancer and ultimately, to finding pathways to new, lifesaving immunotherapy treatments for patients facing this disease,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, CEO and director of scientific affairs at CRI.

The collaboration represents both organizations’ commitment to actively advancing the science of colorectal cancer treatment.

“CRI has been the leading nonprofit funder of immunotherapy research for decades,” said Anjee Davis, president of Fight CRC. “For the colorectal cancer community, immunotherapy is an emerging area of research. Our collaboration is a critical step to ensure support and continued progress. Our organizations share a commitment to research, and I am thrilled we are partnering with CRI. This thoughtful approach will help us think critically about lessons learned from other successes and setbacks in immunotherapy, and how to apply this knowledge to improve therapies for colorectal cancer.”

Rallying Leading Experts
A multidisciplinary group will be led by Dung T. Le, MD, from Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Al B. Benson III, MD, FACP, from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. It will be the first time the following leading experts in colorectal cancer immunotherapy research have all convened around the same table:

  • Dr. Al Benson, Northwestern University
  • Dr. Emily Chan, Vanderbilt University
  • Dr. Dustin  Deming, University of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Luis Diaz, Johns Hopkins
  • Dr. Wolf Fridman, INSERM
  • Dr. Franck Housseau, Johns Hopkins
  • Dr. S. Peter Kang, Merck
  • Dr. Smitha Krishnamurth, Case Western University
  • Dr. Dung T Le, Johns Hopkins
  • Dr. Wells Messersmith, University of Colorado
  • Dr. Cynthia L. Sears, Johns Hopkins
  • Dr. Neil Segal, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Dr. Arvin Yang, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Dr. Rebecca Moss, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Dr. Edward Cha, Genentech
  • Dr. Tom Dubensky, Aduro Biotech
  • Dr. Dirk Brockstedt, Aduro Biotech

In Memory of Gordon Cole
This joint effort is supported by a legacy gift honoring Gordon Cole, a stage IV survivor and Fight CRC board member who passed away in September 2014. Cole believed research into the field of immunology will lead to new treatments and improved care for patients. As a founding member of Fight CRC, he was a very active participant of colorectal cancer policy on the Hill and research advocacy as a patient. He participated in several clinical trials as well as PCORI grants. Funds donated in Gordon’s Cole memory will support the research efforts of this collaboration between Fight CRC and the Cancer Research Institute.

About Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined. In 2015, there will be 132,700 new cases and 49,700 deaths. Colorectal cancer is preventable with proper screening.

For more information about the December 2 immunology meeting and white paper, follow the hashtag #CRCio on Twitter.

About Fight Colorectal Cancer
Fight Colorectal Cancer is a community of activists who find it unacceptable that colorectal cancer – a preventable disease – is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. In 2005, we were founded by survivors and family members who believed in making a difference. Since then we have grown to be a leading, national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. known for our advocacy. Our team plays an important role in making medical information practical for survivors and their families and provides trusted resources that guide patients from diagnosis through survivorship. We unite the colorectal cancer community by empowering anyone impacted by this disease to share their story, advocate for better policies and get involved in the research process. We are one million strong and we won’t stop fighting until there’s a cure. Join us at

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