James Allison, PhD, was named a recipient of the 2015 Pezcoller Foundation–American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Award for Cancer Research at the 2015 AACR Annual Meeting.
Dr. Allison, Chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was acknowledged for his groundbreaking discovery that blocking cytotoxic T-lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) signaling improves antitumor immune responses, as well as for his role in developing the CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy), which was the first of a new class of cancer immunotherapeutics called immune checkpoint inhibitors. Ipilimumab, which was approved to treat metastatic melanoma by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011, was the first therapeutic to improve survival rates among patients with this deadly form of cancer.
The Pezcoller Foundation–AACR International Award, now in its 18th year, recognizes an individual scientist of international renown who has made a major scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research.
“This high honor is yet further recognition of the pioneering work undertaken by Dr. Allison,” said Ronald DePinho, MD, President of MD Anderson. “He is, without question, one of the leading cancer researchers in the world today and has made historic contributions to advances in cancer treatment.”
“Dr. Allison is a world-renowned immunologist, and we are delighted to recognize his extraordinary scientific accomplishments and leadership in the field of cancer immunotherapy,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “His dedicated efforts established the paradigm of immune checkpoint inhibitors, which is transforming the lives of many patients with melanoma and offering hope for patients with other forms of cancer. Dr. Allison’s work epitomizes how basic laboratory research can be translated to a lifesaving cancer treatment, and he is greatly deserving of this accolade.”
“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Pezcoller Award,” said Dr. Allison. “This award by the AACR recognizes the efforts of my research team over the years to develop strategies to unleash the immune system to treat cancer, as well as the many other investigators, clinicians, and patients whose efforts and courage made immunotherapy of cancer a reality that is benefiting cancer patients.” ■