Message from the Director


Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D.
Member, Director and Endowed Chair of Cancer Research

For the second year in a row, Cancer Immunotherapy was selected as the Clinical Advance of the Year by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. There are more than 20 FDA-approved antibody-based drugs for cancers, and more progress in cancer care has been achieved over the past 10 years than in the previous 100.

The major advantage of immunotherapy appears to be the longer, more sustained remissions after immunotherapy compared to what has been observed following other kinds of cancer therapy. Presently, immunotherapy causes tumor regression in only a minority of patients, but when it is effective, patients’ tumors can stay away indefinitely.

Our research team has overseen a record number of enrollments in important, groundbreaking clinical trials resulting in recent, prominent publications. In recognition of the burgeoning field of precision medicine and as a key part of our next phase of research, we have developed a Genomics Program led by Carlo B. Bifulco, M.D., to integrate what we have learned about mutations and cancer with recent advances in immunotherapy. The New England Journal of Medicine featured an editorial by Dr. Bifulco, entitled “Unmasking PD-1 Resistance by Next-Generation Sequencing,” in recognition of our contributions to genome-based immunotherapy. And our newest faculty member, Eric Tran, Ph.D., was recruited from the National Cancer Institute to complement our genomics program with adoptive cellular therapy.

We look forward to utilizing the combined power of genomics and immunotherapy to find better treatments that benefit all cancer patients, not just a minority. We invite you to partner with us to finish cancer.