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COVID-19 and Cancer Immunotherapy Research: How Science from the Frontlines of Immuno-Oncology Is Helping Inform Strategies to Treat and Prevent COVID-19

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The Cancer Research Institute presents a live discussion with CRI immunotherapy experts Drs. Carl H. June, Miriam Merad, and E. John Wherry, and moderated by Matthew Herper, STAT. We discuss some of the ways that research on the immune system and its response to cancer and infectious diseases has not only led to new lifesaving therapies for cancer patients, but is also aiding global efforts to treat COVID-19 patients and prevent future outbreaks. 

Participants

CARL H. JUNE, M.D.
Director, Center for Cellular Immunotherapies
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Member, CRI Scientific Advisory Council
Twitter: @carlhjune

MIRIAM MERAD, M.D., PH.D.
Director, Precision Immunology Institute
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Twitter: @miriammerad

E. JOHN WHERRY, PH.D.
Director, Institute for Immunology
University of Pennsylvania 
Associate Director, CRI Scientific Advisory Council
Twitter: @ejohnwherry

Moderated by

MATTHEW HERPER
Senior Writer, Medicine
STAT 
Twitter: @matthewherper

About the Experts

Carl H. June, M.D.Carl H. June, M.D., is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine, and director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania. His research laboratory studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation that relate to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer and chronic infection. He has published more than 350 manuscripts and is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine in 2012, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2020. In 2012 he received the William B. Coley Award from the Cancer Research Institute, the Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, the AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, and the Philadelphia Award. In 2014 he received the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, the Novartis Prize in Immunology, the Karl Landsteiner Memorial award, the Debrecen Award, and a lifetime achievement award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Miriam Merad, M.D., Ph.D.Miriam Merad, M.D., Ph.D., is the Mount Sinai Endowed Professor in Cancer Immunology and the director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. She also co-leads, the cancer immunology program at The Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Institute and is the director of the Mount Sinai Human Immune Monitoring Center. Her laboratory made seminal discoveries to our understanding of the mechanisms that control the development and functional identity of tissue resident dendritic cells and macrophages during homeostasis, and examining how these regulations are changed in cancer and inflammatory diseases. She has authored more than 170 primary papers and reviews in high profile journals. She receives generous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her research on innate immunity and their contribution to human disease, and belongs to several NIH consortia. In 2018, Dr. Merad received the prestigious William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology. She is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and lectures around the world on her work. 

E. John Wherry, Ph.D.E. John Wherry, Ph.D., is the Barbara and Richard Schiffrin President’s Distinguished Professor, chair of the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine and director of the UPenn Institute for Immunology. Dr. Wherry’s expertise lies mainly in T cell exhaustion, which can hamper anti-tumor immune responses. He has published over 200 papers, many of which have helped advance our understanding of how gene expression changes affect this exhaustion, which has led to strategies to improve the effectiveness of T cell-targeting immunotherapies. In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Wherry received the Distinguished Alumni award from the Thomas Jefferson University, the Stand Up To Cancer Phillip A. Sharp Award, the Cancer Research Institute 2016 Frederick W. Alt Award for New Discoveries in Immunology, and is a member of CRI’s Clinical Leadership Committee.

About the Moderator

Matthew HerperMatthew Herper is a senior writer in medicine for STAT, a media company focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. He has covered medical innovation — both its promise and its perils — for two decades, chronicling the rise of genetic medicine and the ballooning cost of new drugs. Along the way he’s profiled major figures from Martin Shkreli to Bill Gates. From 2000 to 2018, he covered science and medicine for Forbes, writing 17 covers and building the Forbes Healthcare Summit into an industry-leading event.

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