Dr. Margolin has worked at City of Hope for over 26 years, starting with the final two years of her fellowship in hematology-oncology. In addition to clinical trials in melanoma and renal cancer, she led the institution’s scientific review committee, created a data and safety monitoring committee and co-led the development of a clinical investigation course for fellows and other professionals. She left CoH for six years to work at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Fred Hutch – where she represented the Hutch in the University of Washington’s CTSA and later worked as associate director of the hematology-oncology fellowship – and an additional year at Stanford, returning to CoH in 2016 to lead efforts to grow the melanoma program and to participate in cancer immunotherapy initiatives for melanoma and other cancers. She was a Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN) co-principal investigator between 2011 and 2017, co-leading trials of novel cytokines (with Melanoma Research Alliance co-funding) and participating in the steering committee and other CITN activities. She has been a member/co-leader of the Cytokine Working Group since 1986 and has also participated in trial development with the Melanoma Research Foundation, SWOG and the NCI-funded California Cancer Consortium. She has been the section editor for the melanoma section of the journal Cancer since 2008 and reviews manuscripts frequently for other journals.
Dr. Margolin has been a member of SITC continuously since 1990 and has participated in many collaborations and task forces as well as holding several leadership and academic positions, including three years on the SITC board from 2003 to 2006, chairing the Immunology Primer at the Annual Meeting in 2008 and 2012 and co-organizing the Annual Meeting in San Diego in 2002. She participated in the Development Committee from 2001 to 2006, 2008-2009 and is aware of the tremendous advances that recent immunotherapy success have led to in terms of industry, academic and philanthropic support for SITC. Most recently, she was on the Program Committee for the Annual Meeting in 2013 – 2014 and is currently participating in planning for the 2018 ASCO-SITC symposium as well as for a local SITC-sponsored Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy™ (ACI). She has also had extensive grant review experience including Department of Defense, Melanoma Research Alliance, Melanoma Research Foundation, AACR and institutional seed grants at the Hutch.
What are the two or three critical issues facing the field of cancer immunotherapy?
Bench – Immuno-oncology is COMPLICATED. Developing teams to work across current barriers (academic affiliations, financial constraints, geographic separations and cultural differences) is necessary to streamline and optimize efforts to better understand the functions, antitumor potential, and limitations of immune-based therapy of malignancy.
Bedside – Immunotherapy is POWERFUL. Approved therapies, however, are obscenely expensive and accessible to only a fraction of patients who need them. Identification of patients and tumors likely to achieve the optimal therapeutic index and where the gaps can be filled in all aspects of clinical and translational science is critical and again requires teamwork across the currently divergent beliefs and individual data and research programs.
What is your vision for SITC?
I will work with the SITC leadership to propel the society towards a goal of continuing the steady growth in SITC’s membership and financial strength that will allow the society to add more scientific initiatives and support more research than are currently possible. In particular, SITC should try to raise enough funding to offer more scholarship and research support of young investigators whose early careers may be made or broken by the currently high-risk environment for research funding. Further, science has become viciously politicized, and until the stifling political constraints over research prioritization and funding have been relieved, it will be necessary to flow with the currents by lobbying and pressuring elected officials to rally their support to the same science that SITC supports.