Director, Center for Cell-Based Therapy
Head, Center of Excellence in Immunology
NCI/NIH, Bethesda, MD
Dr. Nicholas P. Restifo’s sole focus for nearly three decades is on the development of immunotherapeutic treatments for patients with cancer. He realized early in his career that T cells might be capable of eradicating advanced, metastatic cancer in the absence of long-term toxicities. Today anti-tumor T cells are at the very center of the rapidly expanding universe of cancer immunotherapy. His contributions toward the understanding of the basic immunological processes of tumor rejection are now being translated into cancer treatments worldwide. Specifically, he has i). elucidated the qualities of highly effective anti-tumor T cells; ii). Identified genes within tumors that are required for successful immunotherapy; and iii). worked toward understanding the impact of host factors in cancer immunotherapy.
His efforts are documented in more than 315 scientific papers and two dozen book chapters on cancer immunotherapy. His work has had an impact on virtually every component of modern immunotherapy that is curative of metastatic cancer and has transformed cancer medicine. His work has been cited more than 65,000 times according to Google Scholar, and his current 'h-index' is 130. Recently, he has won the NIH Director’s Award (2017), the Berson Award for Clinical and Translation Science (2017), and the American Society for Microbiology’s Award for Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology (2018). He was recently cited by Thomson Reuters as one of the “World's most influential scientific minds.”
Dr. Restifo’s current work spans several aspects of characterizing and creating curative anti-tumor T cell-based products including epigenetics, immunometabolism and cellular aging. The great luck of his career is that T cells, which he so loved because of their anti-tumor qualities, have turned out to be ideal models for studying such a wide range of physiological processes including the study of stem cell-like T cells, and their rapid development and differentiation after specific recognition of target antigens.