Grant Review Committee
The Grant Review Committee provides scientific merit-based peer review of research proposals submitted to MRA. The committee also advises MRA on other scientific matters as requested.
- Jennifer Wargo, M.D. - Chair
- Marcus Bosenberg, M.D., Ph.D. - Co-Chair
- Ana Anderson, Ph.D.
- Andrew Aplin, Ph.D.
- Boris Bastian, M.D., Ph.D.
- Nina Bhardwaj, M.D., Ph.D.
- Paul B. Chapman, M.D.
- Tanja de Gruijl, Ph.D.
- David Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
- Keith Flaherty, M.D.
- Thomas Gajewski M.D., Ph.D.
- Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D.
- J. William Harbour, M.D.
- Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc.
- Thomas J. Hornyak, M.D., Ph.D.
- Roger Lo, M.D., Ph.D.
- Michal Lotem, M.D.
- Kim Margolin, M.D.
- Glenn Merlino, Ph.D.
- Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D.
- Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D.
- Caroline Robert, M.D., Ph.D.
- Jonathan Simons, M.D.
- Craig Slingluff, M.D.
- Maria Soengas, Ph.D.
- David B. Solit, M.D.
- Alan Spatz, M.D.
- Susan M. Swetter, M.D.
- Suzanne Topalian, M.D.
- Jeffrey Weber, M.D., Ph.D.
- Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D.
- Xu Wu, Ph.D.
- Kai Wucherpfennig, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Neurology
Harvard Medical School
Associate Scientist, Neurology
Brigham And Women's Hospital
Associate Member, Broad Institute of MIT
Dr. Anderson is currently an Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Associate Scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and core faculty member of the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases. Her laboratory identified the inhibitory molecule Tim-3 as a key regulator of T cell dysfunction in cancer. Prior to working in the field of cancer immunology, Dr. Anderson worked in the field of autoimmunity. Dr. Anderson has published over 47 original papers, 13 reviews, and 5 book chapters. Her work on T cell cross-reactivity in autoimmunity was selected by Nature Immunology as a ‘Classic Paper in Autoimmunity’.
She has also had several papers selected as either ‘must-read’ or ‘recommended’ by the Faculty of 1000. Dr. Anderson is on the editorial board for OncoImmunology, Cellular Immunology, and Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. She served on the scientific advisory board for CoStim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by Novartis for their immunotherapy programs. She currently serves on the scientific advisory boards for Potenza Therapeutics, Tizona Therapeutics, and Idera Pharmaceuticals. As the suppressed immune response in cancer is a good counter point to the active immune response present in autoimmunity, her research focus integrates well with her previous research expertise.
Professor, Department of Cancer Biology,
Thomas Jefferson University
Associate Director for Basic Science
Program Leader for Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling
NCI-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
Andrew Aplin is the Associate Director for Basic Science and the Program Leader for Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling in the NCI-designated, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. His research elucidates mechanisms underlying aberrant growth and invasion in melanoma and the influence of the tumor microenvironment. In the past 13 years, his lab has identified downstream targets of mutant BRAF signaling and shown their contribution to malignant traits in melanoma. One focus is the role mutant BRAF regulated transcription factors. They have shown that BRAF-MEK-ERK1/2 signaling differentially regulates FOXD3 and TWIST1 and demonstrated the opposing roles of these transcription factors in melanoma invasion. Another area of focus is the determinants of response and mechanisms of resistance to RAF inhibitors in BRAF V600E melanomas. To facilitate these efforts, they have developed novel models to quantitatively measure ERK1/2 signaling in melanoma tumors in vivo. A third area is response and resistance to next generation RAF inhibitors, ERBB3 neutralizing antibodies and CDK4/6 inhibitors in different genetic subsets of melanoma. Through collaborations with clinicians on the Jefferson campus, he is extending his group’s studies into ocular melanoma. Aplin is a regular member of the NIH study section, Tumor Microenvironment (TME) and served as a Discussion Leader on NCI SPORE review panels. He is co-editor of Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research and serves on the editorial board of Cancer Research and Molecular Cancer Research.
Professor of Dermatology and Pathology
Gerson and Barbara Bass Bakar Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research
University of California, San Francisco
Marcus Bosenberg M.D., Ph.D., is a physician scientist who directs a leading melanoma research laboratory and is a practicing dermatopathologist at Yale University. In his research, Dr. Bosenberg studies the genetics and cellular changes that result in melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer deaths. His laboratory has developed several models in order to study how melanoma forms and progresses, to test new melanoma therapies, and how the immune system can be stimulated to fight melanoma. He attempts to translate basic scientific findings into improvements in melanoma diagnosis and therapy, including efforts to develop new drugs that inhibit epigenetic targets in melanoma. Dr. Bosenberg mentors undergraduate, graduate, medical, and MD-PhD students in his laboratory, teaches at Yale Medical School, and trains resident physicians, fellows, and postdoctoral fellows.
Professor, Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Dr. Bhardwaj's research focuses on the study of dendritic cells, which serve a crucial function as sentinels of the immune system. They are potent antigen-presenting cells which integrate microbe sensing, antigen display, and context-dependent instruction to T cells, to direct the appropriate type of immune response. The Bhardwaj lab focuses on combining fundamental research in dendritic cell biology with innovative translational and clinical approaches. We are thus investigating specialized cytokine secretion, antigen presentation, T cell skewing, interactions with NK cells, and optimal methods of antigen delivery for vaccines using dendritic cells, in HIV, autoimmunity and cancer.
Professor of Dermatology, Pathology, and Immunobiology
Yale School of Medicine
Marcus Bosenberg M.D., Ph.D., is a physician scientist who directs a leading melanoma research laboratory and is a practicing dermatopathologist at Yale Dermatopathology in the Yale Medical Group. In his research, Dr. Bosenberg studies the genetics and cellular changes that result in melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer deaths. His laboratory has developed several models in order to study how melanoma forms and progresses, to test new melanoma therapies, and how the immune system can be stimulated to fight melanoma. He attempts to translate basic scientific findings into improvements in melanoma diagnosis and therapy, including efforts to develop new drugs that inhibit epigenetic targets in melanoma. He is Co-Editor in Chief of Pigment & Melanoma Cell Research and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, an honor society for physician scientists. Dr. Bosenberg mentors undergraduate, graduate, medical, and MD-PhD students in his laboratory, teaches at Yale Medical School, and trains resident physicians, fellows, and postdoctoral fellows.
Paul Chapman, M.D.
Attending Physician, Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service
Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
Dr. Chapman's focus of research is development of novel therapeutics and predictive assays for metastatic melanoma. He is leading early stage clinical trials with monoclonal antibodies as well as novel combinations of signaling pathway inhibitors and immune modulators. In addition to his contributions to the MRA, he is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Melanoma Research Foundation and the steering committee of Society of Melanoma Research. He received his MD from Cornell, completed a residency at the University of Chicago and a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Professor, Translational Tumor Immunology and Head Immunotherapy Lab
Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Tanja de Gruijl heads the Immunotherapy and Immune monitoring Lab of the Department of Medical Oncology of Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit-Cancer Center Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She has over 25 years of experience in the field of tumour immunology and has co authored more than 200 research papers. Her research ranges from preclinical topics to immune monitoring of Phase I-III clinical trials. Her main line of research is the in vivo targeting and modulation of dendritic cells. Further topics of research include tumor-mediated immune suppression, control of myeloid differentiation, immunological arming of oncolytic adenoviruses, nanobody-mediated targeting of (NK)T-cell subsets, and the immune potentiation of tumor-draining lymph nodes and the tumor microenvironment. She is associate editor for Cancer Immunology Research and Clinical and Experimental Immunology. In addition to her involvement in MRA, she is a member of the scientific council of the Dutch Cancer Society, has chaired the Dutch Tumour Immunology Working Party, and is co-chair of the International Advisory Committee of the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). She received her Master's degree in Medical Biology from the University of Utrecht, and her PhD from the VU University in Amsterdam.
David Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief, Dermatology Service
Director, Melanoma Program MGH Cancer Center
Director, Cutaneous Biology Research Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
David E. Fisher, MD, PhD is an internationally known researcher, clinician and academic, who is Chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). He also serves as Director of the MGH Cutaneous Biology Research Center and Director of the Melanoma Center at MGH. A Professor of Dermatology and of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fisher came to the MGH from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he previously Directed the Melanoma Program. Dr. Fisher's research has focused on understanding the molecular and genetic events which underlie formation of melanoma as well as skin pigmentation. As a clinician, he has worked to translate these understandings into advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human diseases related to the skin and associated disorders. A graduate of Swarthmore College with a degree in Biology and Chemistry, Dr. Fisher is also an accomplished concert cellist and received a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He received his PhD under Nobel Laureate Gunter Blobel at Rockefeller University and his Medical Degree at Cornell University Medical College under Dr. Henry Kunkel. Dr. Fisher's specialty training in Medicine, Pediatrics, and Oncology were carried out at Harvard Medical School. He recently served for three years as President of the Society for Melanoma Research, the largest international society dedicated to the study of melanoma.
Harvard Medical School
Director, Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapy
Director of Clinical Research
Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Flaherty has authored or co-authored nearly 300 peer-reviewed primary research reports and review articles, with 37 additional chapters and solicited editorials. Principal among these are three, first-author publications in the New England Journal of Medicine describing the first-in-human clinical trial with the first selective BRAF inhibitor, PLX4032 (now known as vemurafenib), the phase III trial of trametinib (a MEK inhibitor) demonstrating improved progression-free and overall survival compared to conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy, and the phase I/randomized phase II trial demonstrating that combined BRAF/MEK inhibition substantially improves efficacy compared to BRAF inhibitor monotherapy. And, the definitive evidence of benefit of BRAF/MEK combination therapy was defined in the study published in Lancet for which Dr. Flaherty was senior author. These manuscripts define two quantum steps in the advancement of therapy for metastatic melanoma. Dr. Flaherty has co-authored an additional three New England Journal of Medicine manuscripts describing long-term survival benefit from vemurafenib, improved survival with vemurafenib compared to conventional chemotherapy, and the mechanism by which growth of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas is triggered by vemurafenib and other BRAF inhibitors.
Professor, Departments of Pathology and Medicine, University of Chicago
Director, Immunology and Cancer Program, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Gajewski is a Professor of Pathology and Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He investigates and develops new treatments for patients with melanoma, with a special interest in immunotherapy. Dr. Gajewski also leads development of immune-based therapies for other cancers, using new laboratory data on how the immune system is regulated to develop novel clinical trials. His clinical expertise includes biology therapy immunotherapy, epidemiology, immune system disorders, and melanoma. Dr. Gajewski serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Immunology and is on committees for the American Society for Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research. He is a member of the American Society of Immunologists, the American Society of Hematology, and the International Society for the Biological Therapy of Cancer. Dr. Gajewski received his B.A. from the University of Chicago as well as his M.D./Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzer School of Medicine.
Professor, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Jeffrey E. Gershenwald, MD, FACS, is the Dr. John M. Skibber Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgical Oncology and a Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) in Houston, Texas. He is also the Medical Director of the MD Anderson Melanoma and Skin Center. Dr. Gershenwald received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, and after completing his general surgery residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, he completed a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson before joining its faculty. In addition to his active surgical oncology practice focused on the care of patients with melanoma, Dr. Gershenwald's research focuses on integrated clinical-, pathological-, and molecular-based prognostic and predictive modeling in melanoma. He currently co-leads the inaugural MD Anderson Melanoma Moon Shot research program, an ambitious initiative that spans the melanoma continuum from public policy and prevention research initiatives to reduce ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure in youth to leveraging our understanding of the molecular and immune underpinnings of melanoma to improve treatment options for patients with early-stage and advanced melanoma. Dr. Gershenwald is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and its 8th edition Editorial Board, and Chair of its Melanoma Expert Panel. He serves as a member of the Surgical Oncology Board of the American Board of Surgery. Recently, Dr. Gershenwald co-led the melanoma project of The NIH-funded Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program. He has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as more than 100 editorials, abstracts, invited articles, and other publications; for the past 13 years, Dr. Gershenwald has been listed in America’s Best Doctors.
Professor and Vice Chairman, Dr. Mark J. Daily Endowed Chair, Director of Ocular Oncology,
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Associate Director for Basic Research, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
J. William Harbour, M.D., a pioneering ocular oncologist and cancer researcher whose genetic discoveries are transforming the diagnosis and treatment of uveal melanoma and other eye cancers. He attended Johns Hopkins for medical school, Wills Eye Hospital for residency, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for retina fellowship, University of California San Francisco for ocular oncology fellowship, and Washington University in St. Louis for post-doctoral cancer research training. He was on the faculty of Washington University for 16 years, rising to the rank of Distinguished Professor before being recruited to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Miami in 2012. He is now the Dr. Mark J. Daily Endowed Professor, Vice Chairman for Translational Research at Bascom Palmer and Associate Director for Basic Research at Sylvester. His research laboratory has been continuously funded for the past 20 years and uses methods in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, epigenetics and genomics to understand the pathogenesis, identify biomarkers, and discover treatments for eye cancers. His discovery of mutations in BAP1 has triggered to an intense international interest in this tumor suppressor, and his group was the first to show that BAP1 mutations can be transmitted in the germline as part of the newly discovered BAP1 familial cancer syndrome.
Dr. Harbour’s lab developed a clinical prognostic test for uveal melanoma that is now the industry standard and is used for routine clinical testing at the vast majority of ocular oncology centers in North America. His group has discovered mutations in SF3B1, another important cancer gene in uveal melanoma that is associated with intermediate metastatic risk. Recently, the Harbour lab discovered yet another prognostic biomarker in uveal melanoma, aberrant expression of the proto-oncogene PRAME, which is associated with tumor progression, chromosomal instability and increased metastatic risk. Ongoing research efforts focus on the use of these discoveries as “companion prognostic” biomarkers that link high-risk patients to innovative new therapies based on their molecular profile.
Professor, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program
Dr. Meenhard Herlyn has been a cancer researcher since his arrival at Wistar in 1976 and has participated in the Wistar Institute Cancer Center's leadership as a program leader since 1985. He is currently one of three program leaders of this Cancer Center's Program for Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis and the Associate Director for Translational Research. His current research focuses on the biological significance of stem cells in skin morphogenesis and in transformation, invasion and metastasis, using a variety of in vivo and in vitro models. He has over 400 publications, 80% of which are in melanoma. Others are complementary, addressing basic biological mechanisms in cancer and wound healing. He is the PI of two P0-1s on melanoma, one of which has been fully funded since 1980 and of a SPORE. Dr. Herlyn is an active member of three graduate groups at the University of Pennsylvania: Cellular and Molecular Biology, Genomics and Computational Biology, and Bioengineering. He has been an independently funded investigator for 25 years, and has for the same time period participated each year in NCI study sections [with previous memberships in Pathology B (1996-2000) and Tumor Microenvironment, where he served as chair from 2004 to 2006]. He has also been active in the SPORE review program since 2007. He has received several awards including: the Wings of Hope, Melanoma Research Award and the Diana Ashby Award for Excellence in Melanoma Research in 2004, the American Skin Association Annual Skin Cancer/Melanoma Achievement Award in 2005, the Scientific Research Award for Outstanding Contributions in Melanoma Research, American Cancer Society, Southeast Region, Pennsylvania Division in 2006, and the Pan-American Pigment Cell Society Achievement Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Melanoma Research from the Society of Melanoma Research in 2007.
Chief of Dermatology, VA Maryland Health Care System
Associate Professor of Dermatology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Dr. Hornyak is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Associate Chief of Staff for Research & Development, VA Maryland Health Care System. His research activities are focused upon melanocyte developmental and stem cell biology and melanoma epigenetics, and he maintains a clinical interest and practice in pigmented lesions and melanoma. He is also currently the President of the Pan-American Society for Pigment Cell Research. He obtained his A.B. in Music from Princeton and his M.D. degree and Ph.D. degree in Biological Chemistry from The University of Michigan Medical School. He completed an internship in medicine at The New York Hospital - Cornell University Medical Center and a residency in dermatology at New York University Medical Center.
Associate Chief, Dermatology
Director, Dermatology STAR Program
UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Dr. Lo earned his B.S. degree from Stanford University and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Tri-institutional Cornell/Sloan-Kettering/Rockefeller MD-PhD Program (2003). He finished postdoctoral training at UCLA in 2008. Dr. Lo’s laboratory studies therapeutic resistance as a way to gain insights into patient-relevant melanoma biology.
Head, Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy
Sharett Institute of Oncology
Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center
Dr. Lotem's research interests include using dendritic cells for MHC Class I and Class II presentation of tumor-derived antigens and CD4 and CD8 tumor reactive T cells for adoptive transfer strategies. She has received funding from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Israel Cancer Association, The Horowitz Foundation, Chief Scientist Israel Ministry of Health, and the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation. Dr. Lotem earned her medical degree in 1983 from Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel. From 2002-2004, she was a research fellow in the surgery branch of the U.S. National Cancer Institute studying under Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg.
Clinical Professor, City of Hope National Medical Center
Dr. Margolin is a clinical investigator who has worked on melanoma trials of cytotoxic agents, molecularly-targeted drugs and a broad spectrum of immunotherapies. She has a particular interest in the problem of melanoma metastatic to the brain as well as the use of adoptive cell therapy for melanoma. She works with several intramural and extramural laboratories and collaborative groups, including the Melanoma Research Foundation’s breakthrough consortium, SWOG, and California Cancer Consortium. She holds leadership positions in the Cytokine Working Group and the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network and has served on the Board of Directors of the Society of the Immunotherapy of Cancer. She has served a term on the Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee as well as a number of grant review committees and has contributed in many capacities to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Margolin graduated from the medical scientist training program at Stanford, completed a residency in internal medicine at Yale, and did fellowship training in hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplant at University of California, San Diego and City of Hope. She remained on the faculty at City of Hope for 25 years, followed by professorship at the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (6 years) and a professorship at Stanford (1 year) before returning to the City of Hope.
Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics
Head, Cancer Modeling Section
CCR Scientific Director for Basic Research
National Cancer Institute, NIH
Dr. Merlino is currently a Senior Investigator and the Scientific Director for Basic Research at the Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH. Dr. Merlino's career research contributions include advancements in the areas of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, oncogenic transformation, transcriptional regulation, cell cycle regulation, multiple drug resistance and genomic instability. Dr. Merlino was the first to report the amplification/rearrangement of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor gene in human cancer and was among the first to show that growth factors could function in vivo as oncogenes using transgenic mouse models. Dr. Merlino and his colleagues in the Cancer Modeling Section are seeking to elucidate the complex molecular/genetic programs governing melanoma genesis and progression through the development and analysis of genetically engineered mouse models of human cancer. Using a novel mouse melanoma model, Dr. Merlino provided the first experimental evidence supporting the notion that childhood sunburn is a critical melanoma risk factor. This same model is being used to identify the molecular wiring of melanoma initiation by UV radiation, and to access the relative risks of exposure to UVA and UVB in sunlight. They also established the first relevant mouse model of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, and identified Ezrin and its transcriptional regulator Six1 as key pro-metastasis factors in that pediatric malignancy. A current goal of the Merlino lab is to establish and exploit preclinical mouse models for human melanoma to study mechanisms underlying response and resistance to immune checkpoint blockade, and to uncover biomarkers that will predict melanoma patient response in the clinic.
Director, Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
John Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dr. Pardoll is an Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. He is the Director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Pardoll attended Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his M.D., Ph.D., in 1982 and completed his Medical Residency and Oncology Fellowship in 1985. He then worked for three years at the National Institutes of Health as a Medical Staff Fellow. Dr. Pardoll joined the departments of oncology and medicine in 1988. Dr. Pardoll has published over 300 papers as well as over 20 book chapters on the subject of T cell immunology and cancer vaccines. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Cell, and has served as a member of scientific advisory boards for the Cancer Research Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Human Gene Therapy Gene Institute, Biologic Resources Branch of the National Cancer Institute, Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Center, Cerus Corporation, Global Medical Products Corporation, Genencor Corporation, CellGenesys Corporation, Mojave Therapeutics, the American Association of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research. Dr. Pardoll has made a number of basic advances in Cellular Immunology, including the discovery of gamma - delta T cells, NKT cells and interferon-producing killer dendritic cells. Over the past two decades, Dr. Pardoll has studied molecular aspects of dendritic cell biology and immune regulation, particularly related to mechanisms by which cancer cells evade elimination by the immune system. He is an inventor of a number of immunotherapies, including GVAX cancer vaccines and Listeria monocytogenes based cancer vaccines. Dr. Pardoll’s basic immunology discoveries include the identification of -T cells, NKT cells and IKDC. He elucidated the role of Stat3 signaling in tumor immune evasion and in Th17 development, leading to the discovery that Stat3-driven Th17 responses promote carcinogenesis. Dr. Pardoll discovered one of the two ligands for the PD-1 inhibitory receptor and leads the Hopkins cancer immunology program that developed PD-1 pathway-targeted antibodies, demonstrating their clinical activity in multiple cancer types. His more than 300 articles cover cancer vaccines, gene therapies, cancer prevention technologies, recombinant immune modulatory agents for specific pathways that regulate immunity to cancer and infectious diseases.
Professor of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He trained at the University of Barcelona, Spain, with postdoctoral research and clinical fellowship at UCLA. He is the Director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and the Chair of the Melanoma Committee at SWOG. Dr. Ribas is also a permanent committee member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant review panels and an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI). As a physician-scientist, Dr Ribas conducts laboratory and clinical research in malignant melanoma, focusing on adoptive cell transfer with T cell receptor (TCR) engineered lymphocytes, anti-CTLA4 antibodies, BRAF-targeted therapies and nanoparticle-siRNA.
Professor of Dermatology, Head of the Dermatology Unit, Institute Gustave Roussy
Caroline Robert is Head of the Dermatology Unit at the Institut Gustave-Roussy, Paris, France. Dr Robert gained her medical degree at the Cochin Port-Royal School of Medicine, Paris, in 1990, after which she was made a faculty member of the graduate school of biological sciences and received her French Board Certification in Dermatology in 1992. On gaining her certification, Dr Robert was appointed Assistant Professor in Dermatology at the St-Louis Hospital, Paris. She completed a research fellowship at Harvard, US and a PhD in cancer immunology and immunotherapy. In 2000, Dr Robert returned to Europe as Medical Director for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Europe. In 2001, she took a position at the Institut Gustave-Roussy as Assistant in Dermatology, before becoming Head of the Dermatology Unit in 2005. She is board member for the European Association of Onco-Dermatology (EADO), melanoma board secretary for the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), a member of the European Association of Dermato-Venereology (EADV) and the French society of Dermatology and Venereology. Dr Robert is a scientist of international renown in the clinical and translational research of melanoma and the cutaneous side-effects of new targeted chemotherapies. She has authored more than 120 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including a number of publications on new treatments for metastatic melanoma and been involved in numerous international clinical trials.
CEO and President
David H. Koch Chair
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Dr. Simons is an internationally recognized physician-scientist, oncologist, and acclaimed investigator in translational prostate cancer research. Prior to joining the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 2007, he was distinguished Service Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine and Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Simons is the founding director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta and Co-Director of the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Emory and Georgia Tech. Dr. Simons received a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Before entering medical school he was a Rotary International Postgraduate Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, and a Nuffield Foundation Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Simons completed his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School and his fellowship in medical oncology at Johns Hopkins. He is also board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.
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Joseph Helps Farrow Professor of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology
Vice Chair for Research
Director, Human Immune Therapy Center, University of Virginia
Spanish National Cancer Research Center
Since 2008, Dr. Soengas leads the Melanoma Group at the CNIO. The main objective of her team is to translate basic research in melanoma to the clinic by identifying novel markers of this disease and targets for drug development. Soengas has been recipient of fellowships and awards from both the Human Frontiers in Science Programme and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America. She has also received a Life Science Biomedical Scholar Award from the University of Michigan, the Diana Ashby Young Investigator Award from the Society for Melanoma Research as well as Career Development Awards from the American Dermatology Foundation, the Elsa V. Pardee Foundation and the V Foundation for Cancer Research. She has also been honoured with the Premio M. Josefa Wonenburger from the Xunta de Galicia.
Geoffrey Beene Chair
Director, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology
Attending Physician, Genitourinary Oncology Service
Member, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program
Dr. Solit is a medical oncologist and laboratory scientist specializing in the treatment of many cancers using chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, or combinations of these drugs. He is involved with clinical trials, particularly trials of targeted drugs known as kinase inhibitors that block pathways inside cancer cells that cause the cells to grow or spread. Dr. Solit directs the Center for Molecular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and leads a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, geneticists, bioinformaticians, and laboratory scientists.
Dr. Solit received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital and a fellowship in medical hematology/oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Director, Department of Pathology
Jewish General Hospital
Professor of Pathology and Oncology
Program Director, McGill Integrated Cancer Research Training Program
Dr. Alan Spatz is Director of the Pathology Department at the Jewish General Hospital, and Professor of Pathology and Oncology at McGill University. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pathology. Dr. Spatz is Co-Chair of the National Cancer Institute of Canada Melanoma Committee. He served as Chair of the EORTC Melanoma group, and as President of the French division of the International Academy of Pathology. He currently serves as a board member of several international professional organizations and on editorial boards and international strategic committees. Dr. Spatz leads an international research group on cutaneous melanoma. His current research involves the X chromosome role in metastatic potential and key factors associated with cancer progression. He has authored more than 150 original scientific papers, reports, review articles, and books.
Professor of Dermatology
Director, Pigmented Lesion & Melanoma Program
Physician Leader, Cancer Care Program in Cutaneous Oncology
Stanford University Medical Center & Cancer Institute
Susan M. Swetter, MD, is Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Program at Stanford University Medical Center and Cancer Institute, as well as Physician Leader of the Cancer Care Program in Cutaneous Oncology. Dr Swetter received her BA with Distinction from the University of Virginia and her MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She completed an internship in internal medicine at University of California San Francisco, followed by a residency and a chief residency in dermatology at Stanford University Medical Center. She joined the Stanford Dermatology faculty in 1994 and has directed the Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Programs at Stanford and VA Palo Alto since 1995. Dr. Swetter’s research interests include primary and secondary prevention strategies in melanoma and clinical studies of melanoma epidemiology, prognostic factors, and chemoprevention. She serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Melanoma Panel and chairs the American Academy of Dermatology melanoma clinical practice guidelines Work Group. Dr. Swetter is the national dermatologist liaison to the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group’s Melanoma Committee and co-directs the Melanoma Prevention Working Group, a multi-center Intergroup collaboration dedicated to cancer control and melanoma prevention.
Professor, Surgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Director, Melanoma Program, Kimmel Cancer Center
Associate Director, Bloomberg~Kimmel Inst. for Cancer Immunotherapy
Dr. Topalian is a Professor of Surgery and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is the director of the Melanoma Program in the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is an associate director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Topalian is a physician-scientist whose studies of anti-tumor immunity have been foundational in developing cancer immunotherapy. She received her medical and scientific training at Tufts University School of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and the National Cancer Institute. She joined the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in 2006 as the inaugural director of its Melanoma Program. Her current research focuses on manipulating “immune checkpoints” such as PD-1 in cancer therapy, discovering biomarkers predicting response and resistance, and developing effective treatment combinations. Dr. Topalian’s work is widely recognized: she was named one of Nature’s 10 in 2014, and received the Karnofsky Award from ASCO in 2015, the Taubman Prize in 2016, and the NCI’s Rosalind E. Franklin Award in 2018, for landmark discoveries in cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Topalian was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2017. Her work has opened new avenues of scientific investigation and has established immunotherapy as a pillar of oncology.
Associate Professor, Surgical Oncology
Associate Professor, Genomic Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Wargo has significantly contributed to the knowledge of resistance mechanisms and the effect of targeted therapy on anti-tumor immunity. She joined MD Anderson in September 2013 to build a program collecting serial biopsies in patients, particularly those with melanoma, being treated with chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The goal of this program is to better understand responses to therapy and develop novel strategies to combat resistance. By studying patients with metastatic melanoma initially treated with immune checkpoint blockade, Wargo's research program uncovered important biomarkers of response. Potential mechanisms of therapeutic resistance to immune checkpoint blockade were also identified. These findings were published in the Summer 2016 edition of Cancer Discovery and have far-reaching implications for the use of immune checkpoint blockade in precision medicine. Currently, her team is examining the microbiome — the collective population of microorganisms that live in and on humans — to determine the role it plays in patient response to cancer therapy.
Deputy Director and Head, Experimental Therapeutics, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center
Jeffrey Weber is a translational clinician-scientist and clinical trialist with an interest in Immuno-Oncology and the development of new treatment strategies for patients with melanoma. He has been funded by the National Cancer Institute with RO1 funding for over 24 years, has been the principal investigator of the Moffitt Skin SPORE, and is the co-PI of the submitted NYU Melanoma SPORE. He has sat on numerous study sections, chairs the NCI Clinical Oncology Study section and has been instrumental in the development of the three immune oncology agents that have been approved by the FDA for melanoma in the last decade: ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab.
Dr. Weber was the first to show, and was the principal investigator of the first trial that demonstrated benefit for PD-1 blocking antibodies in melanoma patients that had failed ipilimumab. He was also the first investigator who demonstrated that PD-1 blocking antibodies had encouraging activity in resected melanoma patients and is the international principal investigator of the first adjuvant trial to show that PD-1 blocking antibody nivolumab showed benefit in patients with surgically resected melanoma at high risk or recurrence. He maintains an active portfolio of clinical trials and runs a laboratory effort in which tumor and blood samples are analyzed for markers that are associated with benefit from novel immune-oncology agents.
Ira Brind Professor
Co-Program Leader, Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis
Melanoma Research Center
The Wistar Institute
Dr. Weeraratna studies the molecular mechanisms involved in melanoma metastasis with particular emphasis on the Wnt signaling pathway. She is also interested in examining the changes in the tumor microenvironment and how they affect melanoma progression and therapy resistance.
Cutaneous Biology Research Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Chair, Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology
Chair, Cancer Immunology & Virology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dr. Wucherpfennig is a leader in cancer immunology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. He serves as chair of the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at the Dana-Farber and is the co-leader of the Cancer Immunology Program of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
Dr. Wucherpfennig has worked in the T cell immunology field for more than 30 years, with a focus on the molecular mechanisms of antigen presentation and T cell recognition. His lab has defined key features of T cell receptor recognition of peptide-MHC complexes at a structural, biochemical and cellular level, and has also defined the molecular mechanisms responsible for the assembly of the T cell receptor – CD3 complex which is composed of six distinct chains. He showed that the polar interactions among the transmembrane domains that guide TCR-CD3 assembly are also highly relevant for many other receptors in the immune system. Most recently, his lab developed an in vivo shRNA screen to discover key negative regulators of T cell function in the tumor microenvironment. These genes are studied at a mechanistic level and are used as therapeutic targets to improve the efficacy of adoptive T cell therapy against solid tumors.