SITC Sparkathon


The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Sparkathon program brings together investigators early in their careers with various backgrounds, degrees and professional experiences to collaboratively address obstacles the field of cancer immunotherapy faces.

SITC will select a group of 30 emerging leaders (who will become known as the SITC Sparkathon Class of 2018) in the fields of cancer immunotherapy, physical sciences, systems biology and statistics for the 2018 SITC Sparkathon.

Selected participants will meet on Sept. 12–14, 2018, in Chicago, Illinois., for a two-and-a-half-day retreat where they will work together to develop innovative solutions to obstacles the field of cancer immunotherapy faces.

During the retreat, participants will work alongside business experts to develop project proposals. A panel of SITC leaders will award the most promising project up to $200,000 to implement the proposed project. The full 2018 class (all participants) will then implement the project during the following 12–18 months, culminating in a presentation at the society’s 34th Annual Meeting, Nov. 6–10, 2019.

SITC Sparkathon Retreat

Participants will meet on Sept. 12 – 14, 2018, in Chicago, Illinois for a two-and-a-half-day retreat.

Day One

  • The retreat will kick off with a forward-thinking presentation delivered by a futurist, which will inspire participants to creatively and innovatively approach their project designs over the remainder of the retreat.
  • Participants will learn about each other’s experiences, knowledge and strengths through ice breakers, which will provide a foundation for successful communication over the next two days.

Day Two

  • The class will break into three teams of ten, and each team will operate in a think tank to consider a comprehensive list of key priorities identified by SITC leadership survey results, strategic planning results, policy statements and obstacles within the field.
  • Each team will select one priority or obstacle to address and begin to formulate project plans. Business experts will serve as coaches to support the development of the proposals to ensure successful implementation.
  • Teams will present their proposals to a panel of SITC leaders for merit-based approval, after which each team will work to finalize details of their projects.

Day Three

  • Teams will refine their presentation skills as they make formal project presentations to a panel of SITC leaders.
  • The panel will select the top project and provide feedback and recommendations for implementation. The full class will come together to consider the next steps for implementation of the project.

SITC Sparkathon Project Implementation

Following the retreat, the class will develop a detailed plan that includes budgets and timelines. The group will receive resources of up to $200,000 for project development and implementation. The class will use a provided online communication and project management platform to further the develop plans and foster continued relationship development among the group. The collaborative interface platform will bring like-minded people together in a secure community designed to enable relevant and purposeful interactions, ignite knowledge sharing, drive content creation and improve performance.

The class will have approximately 12-14 months to execute project plans. Projects must conclude by November 2019. SITC will consider project outcomes for publication in the Journal of ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) and for presentation at the society’s 34th Annual Meeting, Nov. 6-10, 2019, at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

The SITC Sparkathon is supported in part by an anonymous donor, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and Incyte Corporation.