$500,000 to Study Cancer Immunotherapy and Design Patient-Specific Cancer Vaccines
Dr. Carl June, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the School of Medicine and director of Translational Research at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, was awarded the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grant. These five-year grants support pioneering, risk-taking, basic research scientists.
“It’s an extreme honor,” notes Dr. June. “It’s a wonderful privilege and the timing is perfect. We will use this to take advantage of the momentum from the research advances we have already achieved. This award gives us the ability to test our promising new therapies and is especially valuable, given the present climate of flat federal funding for cancer research.”
The grants—each $500,000—can be used by the researchers as they see fit, without restrictions. This year 13 researchers—in the fields of cancer, nutrition, neuroscience, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, and synthetic organic chemistry—were awarded a total of $6.5 million.
Dr. June will use the grant to continue his pioneering work on developing immune-system-based cancer vaccines. These vaccines, which are used to help treat patients already diagnosed with cancer, enlist a patient’s own immune cells to recognize and kill tumor cells. “So far, we’re testing this approach to develop customized cancer vaccines in leukemia and in patients with solid tumors like lung and ovarian cancers,” notes Dr. June.
The long-term goal of this research is to develop effective therapies for cancers that are not curable with currently available chemotherapy. Another objective is to test whether patient-specific tumor vaccines can prevent tumors from developing in patients who have an increased risk of developing cancer.
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 15, December 13, 2005
December 13, 2005
Volume 52 Number 15