Cancer Research Institute Media Room



Cancer Research Institute CEO and Director of Scientific Affairs Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey Receives Inaugural Tara Withington Public Service Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer

NEW YORK, November 11, 2020 – The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), a nonprofit organization dedicated since 1953 to the advancement of scientific research aimed at harnessing the power of our immune system to treat, control, and prevent cancer, today announced that its chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs, Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, has been named by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) as the inaugural recipient of the SITC Tara Withington Public Service Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual or group who fosters and enhances the field of cancer immunotherapy through increasing public understanding, awareness, research efforts, and/or funding.

Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, PhD

The award is named for SITC outgoing Executive Director Tara Withington, who over the course of twenty years has shaped SITC’s initiatives and fostered its growth into the largest international association for health care professionals within the field of immuno-oncology. SITC presented the award to Dr. O’Donnell-Tormey earlier today during an online ceremony as part of its 35th Anniversary Annual Meeting, which this year is being provided virtually to its more than 3,000 member-strong community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s great honor to recognize Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, as the recipient of SITC’s Tara Withington Public Service Award,” said SITC President Mario Sznol, MD, during the ceremony. “Jill is a true leader and strong advocate for cancer immunotherapy through her continuous service at the Cancer Research Institute. She has overseen the exponential growth and evolution of core programs at CRI, including disseminating research, funding and training future generations of tumor immunologists, and supporting and promoting clinical development of new promising cancer immunotherapies, making CRI flourish at the forefront of the cancer immunotherapy field.”

The presentation of the inaugural SITC Tara Withington Public Service Award also featured remarks from longtime members of CRI’s leadership, including CRI Board of Trustees member and former Chairman Donald J. Gogel, CRI Scientific Advisory Council Director and 2018 Nobel Prize Winner James P. Allison, PhD, and Associate Director of the CRI Scientific Advisory Council and Chair of the CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship Review Committee Ellen Puré, PhD Each described Dr. O’Donnell-Tormey’s contributions to guiding the evolution of CRI, growing and communicating its mission and impact, and developing an international community of dedicated scientists and collaborative partners committed to cancer immunotherapy.

In her acceptance remarks, Dr. O’Donnell-Tormey emphasized that this award is in reality not for her, but for the Cancer Research Institute, its staff, trustees, scientific advisors, donors, and the thousands of scientists funded by CRI over the years, all of whom believe in and support CRI’s singular mission to save more lives with cancer immunotherapy. She also recalled the instrumental role of CRI’s founding scientific and medical director, Lloyd J. Old, MD, who for four decades guided CRI’s vision and was a “mentor, friend, and standard-bearer for the field of immuno-oncology.” Finally, she thanked her family for the support they have provided her in steering CRI since becoming its chief executive 20 years ago.

The Cancer Research Institute congratulates Dr. O’Donnell-Tormey on this outstanding accomplishment and for her many years of dedication to the field of cancer immunotherapy, the scientists working to advance more lifesaving cancer treatments, and the patients who benefit from their work, which is made possible only through the generous support of CRI’s donors.

To view the award presentation, visit

About the Cancer Research Institute"
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the world’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to saving more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all types of cancer. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes four Nobel laureates and 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested $445 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities, and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to

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