SU2C Awards Innovative Research Grants in Immuno-oncology to 10 Early-Career Scientists

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Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) has announced the award of $7.5 million in Innovative Research Grants focused on immuno-oncology to 10 early-career scientists, in a program funded by a grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS), an SU2C Visionary Supporter. These awards were announced at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), SU2C’s Scientific Partner.

“Immuno-oncology is one of the most exciting areas in cancer research today, and we believe these outstanding investigators have the potential to help take the field to the next level,” said William G. Kaelin, Jr, MD, Professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and Chair of the SU2C Innovative Research Grants Committee. “We want to see more patients benefiting from the science of immuno-oncology, so increasing the types of cancers for which treatment may be effective is critical. These researchers will bring new ideas and fresh energy to that effort.”

The awards are part of SU2C’s overall Innovative Research Grants program, which has provided funding to 36 early-career scientists in 3 classes thus far (2009, 2011, and 2016), in an effort to support outstanding members in the rising generation of cancer researchers. The 2017 class is unique in that funds are being provided by BMS through a grant to SU2C, and applicants were asked to focus on some aspect of immuno-oncology, an area of research in which the company and SU2C are both very active. The process of selecting grantees was conducted by the Innovative Research Grants Committee, with the assistance of AACR, and was independent of BMS.

“Immuno-oncology has the potential to improve survival and change the way people live with cancer, but we have much more to learn, and so investment in new research is critical,” said Thomas J. Lynch, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of BMS. “The Innovative Research Grants program is a novel approach that enables the rising stars in cancer research to help accelerate the field of immuno-oncology, and we are delighted to provide funding to SU2C to support it.”

These Innovative Research Grants–funded projects are characterized as “high risk,” because they challenge existing paradigms, and, if successful, the projects have the potential for “high reward” in terms of saving lives.

2017 Class of Recipients

  • Daniel A. Bachovchin, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Harnessing Dipeptidyl Peptidase Inhibition for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • David M. Barrett, MD, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: Rescuing T-Cell Function for Immunotherapy of Pediatric Malignancies
  • Gregory L. Beatty, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania: Targeting the Prometastatic Niche in the Liver for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Marie Bleakley, MD, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: T-Cell Immunotherapy for Core-Binding Factor Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Michael D. Farwell, MD, University of Pennsylvania: Imaging CAR T Cells With a Dual Function PET Reporter Gene
  • Rizwan Haq, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Identifying and Targeting Mechanisms of Resistance to Immunotherapy
  • Meenakshi G. Hegde, MD, Baylor College of Medicine: Reworking Negative Receptor Signals for Improved Antiglioma T-Cell Therapy
  • Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD, Mass General/Harvard: Potentiating Novel Engineered Cellular Therapies for Solid Tumors
  • Jennifer Wargo, MD, MMSc, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: Delineating the Role of the Microbiome in Modulating Tumor and Host Immunity
  • John T. Wilson, PhD, Vanderbilt University: Reprogramming Tumor Immunogenicity With STING-Activating Nanoparticles.