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Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

  • Catherine Wu, MD, sitting at a microscope


    Catherine Wu, MD, studies the identification of tumor-specific antigens that would allow effective tumor targeting without collateral toxicity.

  • The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy is an unprecedented collaboration that brings together 300 of the country's leading immunologists at top cancer research institutions nationwide, all dedicated to a single mission: harnessing the power of the immune system to fight — and cure — cancer. By encouraging cooperation, data sharing and industry partnerships, the Parker Institute enables real collaboration, accelerating ambitious research to deliver new immunotherapies engineered to save lives.

    The Parker Institute works with researchers in a variety of ways to empower them to do their best science. The Institute provides programmatic support for our talented group of researchers at Dana-Farber.

    The Parker Institute also provides institutional support to six academic centers including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Stanford Medicine; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Institute also supports outstanding investigators including Robert Schreiber, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Phil Greenberg, MD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

    The Parker Institute believes that this multifaceted approach to bring the best and brightest minds in basic and translational research will accelerate the development of cancer immunotherapies with the greatest chance of impact on patients. Funding for the Institute comes from a $250 million grant from the Parker Foundation, established by tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker.

    By providing the resources and central coordination needed to advance research objectives, the Parker Institute empowers its team of scientists to pursue their boldest research ambitions. To date, the Parker Institute's research agenda has focused on "best-in-class" T-Cells, checkpoint blockade response, tumor antigen discovery and tumor microenvironment.

    Learn more about the Dana-Farber researchers joining the Parker Institute.

    Learn more about immunology research and immunotherapy at Dana-Farber.

    The Case for Cancer Immunotherapy

    The global economic cost of cancer reached $1.2 trillion in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. Despite the investment in treatment and prevention, 8.8 million people died of cancer in 2015. That number is projected to increase to 14.6 million in 2035.

    The key difference that separates cancer immunotherapy is its durability. While traditional therapies may extend lives, the responses are often not durable – which means that the disease can progress or recur, often very quickly. Immunotherapies, on the other hand, can be curative and durable. Patients with sufficient anti-cancer immunity can achieve long-lasting control over their disease.

    Currently there are more than a thousand clinical trials exploring immunotherapy for cancer treatment, with hundreds of research centers and companies vying for answers. To dramatically accelerate cancer research breakthroughs and hasten the delivery of better treatments to patients, the Parker Institute developed a new approach that both accelerates cancer research and breaks down traditional barriers. Working with the finest academic and industry partners, the Parker Institute:

    • Brings together the best scientists, clinicians and industry partners to build a smarter and more coordinated cancer immunotherapy research effort.
    • Builds a better funding and research model that overcomes the logistical hurdles that can slow research breakthroughs, and invests more strategically in projects that have big potential.
    • Provides its members with easy access to advanced bioinformatics, intellectual property, sequencing, immune monitoring, industry-owned drugs, cell manufacturing, genetic engineering and clinical trials management.
    • Funds high-risk, high-reward research projects and focuses on areas that hold the most promise for advancing cancer immunotherapy and helping patients.

    Learn more about the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
    Learn more about clinical trials at Dana-Farber.