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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute joined forces with the prestigious Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in October 2017 to unite the most progressive cancer researchers in the United States. Dana-Farber
is a leader in cancer research and brings a team of experts that collaborate with Parker Institute investigators to enhance and expand research projects and clinical trials across all cancers.
As part of the Parker Institute, several Dana-Farber researchers will have access to innovative tools, resources and services. They include clinical trial management, bioinformatics and data analysis and intellectual property management to help drive
the research forward.
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W. Nicholas Haining, BM, BCh, is a pediatric oncologist in the hematopoietic stem cell transplant program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. An associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, his lab studies the mechanisms underlying T-cell exhaustion and immune evasion by tumors. Dr. Haining's lab uses a range of approaches including cellular immunology, functional genomics, epigenetics, and single cell profiling to understand why protective T-cell memory fails to occur in cancer and chronic viral infection, and how tumors avoid immune attack.
At Dana-Farber, Catherine J. Wu, MD, has initiated an integrated program of research and clinical activities focusing on dissecting the underlying mechanisms of pathobiology of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) as a means to generate more effective therapies, including immune-based treatments for this common adult leukemia. She has been principal investigator of several center-initiated clinical trials, including trials of the NeoVax personalized antigen vaccine.
A major priority of her studies is the identification of tumor-specific antigens that would allow effective tumor targeting without collateral toxicity. She has been using exome and transcriptome sequencing technologies to identify unique mutated tumor antigens that arise from individual-specific genetic alterations within a tumor. The hope is that these could be potentially immunotherapy targets, and could pave the way for developing personalized tumor vaccines.
Philip Kranzusch, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. His lab uses structural and biochemical approaches to understand how the immune system recognizes cancer and pathogen replication. The lab is currently focused on harnessing the cGAS-STING pathway to control immune signaling and anti-tumor immunity.
An internationally recognized leader in developing immune therapy and melanoma therapeutics, F. Stephen Hodi, MD, is particularly known for the clinical development of checkpoint inhibitors. He led the first human trial of ipilimumab, which blocks the CTLA-4 checkpoint, and later led the Phase III registration trial, which was the first study to show a survival advantage for a melanoma drug, and which led to FDA approval of ipilimumab. The dramatic and long-lasting responses seen with this agent provided proof that reactivating the suppressed immune system of cancer patients could be enormously beneficial.
Subsequently, Dr. Hodi has continued as a key investigator in the clinical development of the second family of checkpoint inhibitors, which block PD-1 and PD-L1. This work has not only changed the paradigm for treating melanoma but has also been applied to improve outcomes in many other malignancies, such as lung and kidney cancer. He has also led pioneering, investigator-initiated trials combining immune checkpoint blockade with cytokines and the first combination of immune checkpoint blockade with anti-angiogenesis agents. Hodi is also known for his work in treating KIT-mutated melanoma.
Elizabeth Mittendorf, MD, PhD, is the Robert and Karen Hale Distinguished Chair in Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and director of the Breast Immuno-Oncology Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center. She focuses her clinical and laboratory efforts on the study of breast cancer with a specific interest in immunotherapy.
Dr. Mittendorf has been the principal investigator on numerous trials investigating cancer vaccines, including the phase III PRESENT study evaluating a CD8 T-cell-eliciting vaccine in the adjuvant setting, and an investigator-initiated multicenter phase II trial investigating vaccination in combination with trastuzumab in HER2-positive patients. She is also the principal investigator on two investigator-initiated pre-surgical studies evaluating immune checkpoint blockade agents in breast cancer patients.
The current focus of her laboratory work is determining the impact of standard and experimental therapies on immunologic aspects of the tumor microenvironment to inform rational trials of immunotherapeutic agents in breast cancer. She is also investigating novel targets for vaccine strategies.