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Keynote Speakers

Richard V. Smalley, MD Memorial Award and Lectureship Recipient

Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD
Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine

Instrumental in the discovery of PD-1 and its role in regulating T cell response, Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD is a major leader in the immunotherapy field. His work has helped define the immunologic role of PD-1 in diseases and also helped identify PD-1 as a target for cancer immunotherapy drug development.

Professor Honjo's research has also included major contributions to our understanding of immunoglobulin class switching. In 1978, he developed a model of how antibody gene rearrangement during class switching occurred and went on to verify the model by elucidating the DNA structure. He also discovered the molecular structures and functions of IL-4 and IL-5, cytokines involved in class switching. More recently, Professor Honjo identified activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) as playing an important role in class switching recombination and somatic hypermutation. He currently serves as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medical Chemistry at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine.

Honors & Affiliations

Professor Honjo has received many awards and honors, including the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy (1996), Robert Koch Prize (2012), the Order of Culture (2013) and Tang Prize (2014). He is a member of the Japan Academy, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina and was elected as a foreign associate member of the National Academy of Sciences USA in 2001.

Milestones in Immunotherapy Session Keynote Speakers

James P. Allison, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

James P. Allison, PhD studies the regulation of T cell responses. He identified CTLA-4 as a molecule that acts to limit T cell responses and was the first to propose that blockade of the inhibitory signals mediated by CTLA-4 could enhance T cell responses to achieve tumor eradication.

Dr. Allison is a long-standing SITC member. He served as an At-Large Director on the SITC Board of Directors and was honored with the Richard V. Smalley, MD Memorial Award in 2010. Learn more about Dr. Allison here.

Cornelis J.M. Melief, MD, PhD
Leiden University Medical Center

Cornelis (Kees) J.M. Melief, MD, PhD is Emeritus Professor at Leiden University, where he worked for decades on the elucidation of immunological mechanisms that lead to effective clinically applicable T cell-based immunotherapy of cancer. He has served as Chief Scientific Officer of ISA Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company specializing in development of therapeutic cancer vaccines since 2010.

Of his many contributions to basic immunology, the most striking highlights are the eradication of large vascularized mouse tumors by adoptive transfer of cytotoxic T lymphocytes directed against an oncogene-encoded protein (1989), as well as the discovery that T cell help for cytotoxic T lymphocyte induction involves cognate interaction between CD40 ligand on T helper cells and CD40 on dendritic cells (1998).

Dr. Melief currently serves as an At-Large Director on SITC's Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer Editorial Board. Learn more about Dr. Melief here.

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD
National Cancer Institute

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD has pioneered the development of immunotherapy that has resulted in the first effective immunotherapies for selected patients with advanced cancer. His studies of cell transfer immunotherapy have resulted in durable complete remissions in patients with metastatic melanoma.

Dr. Rosenberg's recent studies have identified unique mutated antigens as the targets of immunotherapy. These findings are facilitating the application of immunotherapy to common epithelial cancers. He has pioneered the development of gene therapy and was the first to successfully insert foreign genes into humans. His studies of the adoptive transfer of genetically modified lymphocytes resulted in the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with melanoma, sarcomas and lymphomas.

Dr. Rosenberg is a long-standing SITC member. He was the recipient of the first ever Richard V. Smalley, MD Memorial Award in 2005. Learn more about Dr. Rosenberg here.

Robert D. Schreiber, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine

Robert D. Schreiber, PhD's career has focused on elucidating the biochemistry and molecular cell biology of cytokines, especially interferon-gamma (IFNγ), and defining their roles in promoting immune responses to cancer. In 2001, using IFNγ-unresponsive- and immunodeficient gene-targeted mice, Dr. Schreiber and colleagues demonstrated that the unmanipulated immune system could eliminate spontaneous and carcinogen-induced primary tumors and thereby resolved the long-standing controversy over whether cancer immunosurveillance occurs.

His group also demonstrated that immunity promotes tumor dormancy and ultimately facilitates cancer progression by shaping tumor immunogenicity. These observations led Dr. Schreiber and his collaborators to propose the cancer immunoediting hypothesis that has gained nearly universal acceptance in the last few years. Dr. Schreiber’s work has thus led to a generalized appreciation of the profound effect of immunity on developing tumors and has contributed critical conceptual and practical support to the fields of tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy.

As a Society member, Dr. Schreiber currently serves on the SITC 2015 Annual Program Committee and is co-organizing the Workshop on New Perspectives for Target Antigens in the Changing Cancer Immunotherapy Landscape. Learn more about Dr. Schreiber here.

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Save the dates for SITC 2016!
November 9 – 13, 2016
Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland

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