Meet-the-Expert Lunch

Meet-the-Expert Lunch

A Pre-Conference Program; additional registration is required.

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021*
Noon–1:30 p.m. EST

*Dates and times subject to change. 


The Meet-the-Expert Lunch will focus on unique issues related to early career scientist career development and will provide attendees the opportunity to interact with experts in key areas of immunotherapy. The Meet-the-Expert Lunch will address different relevant topics in a setting that fosters attendee/expert interactions and provides networking opportunities with leaders in the field. Experts will answer questions and lead informal dialogue to help provide guidance and career advancement advice.

Program Organizers

  • Praveen Bommareddy, MS, PhD – Replimune Inc.
  • Zachary Cooper, PhD – AstraZeneca
  • Abdul Rafeh Naqash, MD – National Cancer Institute
  • Abigail Overacre-Delgoffe, PhD – University of Pittsburgh
  • Grey Wilkinson, PhD  – Oncolytics Biotech Inc.

Target Audience

The audience for Meet-the-Expert Lunch includes graduate, medical, and post-baccalaureate students; clinical fellows; post-doctoral fellows; tenure-track investigators, government employees, and scientists in general; and industry/pharma scientists and employees. Space for this event is limited and priority will be given to early career scientists.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to:

  • Address most of their open questions and concerns on the selected topic
  • Make informed decisions about their career development and research projects
  • Establish connections with experts in their field of interest
The Meet-the-Expert Lunch is an interactive setting allowing for participants to eat lunch together while addressing different relevant topics and networking with leaders in the field. Each table will plan to seat ten individuals in a room with anticipated attendance of up to 200 people. SITC will adhere to local regulations and guidelines at the time of the meeting. For the latest information on travel requirements for Washington D.C., click here.

Table Topics
  • Academic Focused Translational Research in Immunology
    • Cara Haymaker, PhD University of Texas AM Anderson
    • Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Industry Focused Translational Research in Immunology
    • Israel Lowy, MD, PhD Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
  • Clinical/Translational Research as a Surgeon
    • Vernon Sondak, MD Moffitt Cancer Center
  • Radiation Oncology Focused Clinical/Translational Research
    • Silvia Formenti, MD Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Basic Research in Immunology
    • Greg Delgoffe, PhD University of Pittsburgh
  • Immunotherapy Based Early-Phase Clinical Trials and Research
  • Career Path: The Big Pharma Industry Perspective
  • Career Path: The Small Biotech Industry Perspective
    • Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD ESSA Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Clinical-Translational Research in Immunology with Focus on Fellows and Early Career Clinicians
    • Jarushka Naidoo, MB BCh, MHS Beaumont Hospital Dublin
    • Ann Silk, MD Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • How to Navigate the Postdoc to PI transitions (types of grants, negotiating package)
    • Amanda Lund, PhD NYU Grossman School of Medicine
  • To Postdoc or Not Postdoc: Pros and Cons of a Postdoctoral Position
    • Maria Jure-Kunkel, PhD, DVM Genmab
  • Spinning Your Lab into a Small Business or Starting Your Own Startup Company
    • Aaron Ring, MD, PhD Yale University School of Medicine
  • Building Bridges to Bring Research from the Bench to the Bedside
    • Jason Luke, MD, FACP University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Balancing the Clinic with Your Lab
    • Dmitriy Zamarin, MD, PhD Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Finding a Mentor, Advisor, and Sponsor
    • Lisa Butterfield, PhD Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Program Faculty

Lisa Butterfield, PhD Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine, Surgery, Immunology and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory (IMCPL) at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. She obtained her PhD in Biology at UCLA, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in Cellular Immunology and Cancer Gene Therapy also at UCLA. She is the President of the Society of ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (SITC), and on the Immune Biomarkers Task Force Steering Committee, after serving on several committees, as Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President. Dr. Butterfield also serves as Director of the ECOG-ACRIN National Clinical Trials Network Immunology Reference Laboratory, as well as Melanoma Committee Lab Liaison and on the Immune Biomarkers Committee. She investigates immunotherapy and cancer vaccines for hepatocellular cancer and for melanoma, involving peptides, dendritic cells and adenoviruses, and effector responses to tumor antigens. As Associate Director (2005-2010) and Director of the IMCPL (2010-present), she oversees the cellular product production for multiple trials and multiple types of products involving dendritic cells, NK cells and T cells.

Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD ESSA Pharma Inc.
Dr. Cesano is ESSA’s Chief Medical Officer. Prior to joining ESSA, Dr. Cesano served as Chief Medical Officer at NanoString Inc., focusing on the development of translational and diagnostic multi-plexed assays for the characterization and measurement of mechanisms of immune response and resistance. Previously, Dr. Cesano was the Chief Medical Officer at Cleave Biosciences, Inc., and Nodality, Inc. Throughout her career, Dr. Cesano has held various management positions at Amgen, Biogen Idec and SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, where she helped advance various oncology drugs through late-stage development and FDA approvals. Early in her professional career, Dr. Cesano spent 12 years conducting research in tumor immunology, including nine years at the Wistar Institute, an NCI Basic Cancer Center connected with the University of Pennsylvania, and she has authored over 100 publications. Dr. Cesano received an M.D. summa cum laude, a Board Certification in Oncology and a Ph.D. in Tumor Immunology from the University of Turin.

Greg Delgoffe, PhD – University of Pittsburgh
Greg M. Delgoffe, Ph.D is an Associate Professor of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh. He obtained his Ph.D from Johns Hopkins in 2010 and completed postdoctoral training a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His research focuses on metabolic regulation of T cell function, with a specific focus on that antitumor immunity that takes place within the tumor microenvironment. His lab has found that T cells that infiltrate tumors have striking metabolic defects that can be corrected to improve antitumor immunity and response to immunotherapy. Further, studies from the Delgoffe lab suggest that measurement of tumor microenvironment metabolism, the deregulated energetics driven by tumor growth, is not only an indicator of immunotherapeutic response but a target to improve the efficacy of immunotherapeutic treatments.

Silvia Formenti, MD Weill Cornell Medicine
Dr. Silvia Formenti is Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Professor of Radiation Oncology and Medicine, Associate Director of Translational Research at the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, and Radiation Oncologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is also the Sandra and Edward Meyer Professor of Cancer Research at Weill Cornell Medicine.Dr. Formenti received her medical degree in Italy from the University of Milan. She is board certified in medical oncology, radiology and radiation oncology. A recognized leader in radiation oncology and breast cancer research, Dr. Formenti’s groundbreaking work has transformed the paradigm in radiation biology, demonstrating the efficacy of combining radiotherapy with immunotherapy to control cancer cell growth in solid tumors. In combination with immune checkpoint blockade, focal radiotherapy can be used to recruit patients’ immune systems to reject their individual tumor, resulting in a form of personalized immunotherapy, specific for each individual patient. She has translated preclinical work into clinical trials in metastatic solid tumors like breast and lung cancer, and in brain metastases. She has initiated eighteen investigator initiated clinical trials that translate our preclinical findings to the clinic. A prolific researcher, Dr. Formenti has published more than 280 papers recognized by high-impact journals including Nature Medicine, JAMA, Lancet Oncology and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. In 2019, she was honored to receive the ASTRO Gold Medal.

Cara Haymaker, PhDUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Cara Haymaker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Translational Molecular Pathology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Haymaker's work is focused on defining the complex tumor immune microenvironment including tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) in malignant pleural mesothelioma and identifying actionable targets in this rare tumor. In addition, she is investigating ways to modulate intratumoral myeloid lineages to improve antigen presentation and costimulation to TIL, thus improving response to cellular and antibody-based immunotherapy strategies. Dr. Haymaker is also actively engaged in immune profiling of clinical trials performed at UT MDACC as Director of both the Translational Molecular Pathology-Immunoprofiling Lab (TMP-IL) and the CCSG developmental Oncology Research and Immune-monitoring core (ORION).

Israel Lowy, MD, PhD – Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Israel (Izzy) Lowy, MD, PhD, joined Regeneron in 2010 as Vice President, and serves as the Senior Vice President, Translational Sciences and Oncology. He is a primary architect of Regeneron’s cancer immunotherapy program. Prior to joining Regeneron, Dr. Lowy was at Medarex for eight years. Previously, he was Assistant Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is a licensed physician and has been board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases. Dr. Lowy received his AB in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University and his MD-PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University.

Jason Luke, MD, FACP – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Jason J. Luke, M.D., F.A.C.P. is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Hillman Cancer Center where he is the Director of the Cancer Immunotherapeutics Center. Dr. Luke specializes in the management of patients with melanoma and early phase drug development (particularly novel immunotherapeutics and biomarkers of immunotherapy activity). Dr. Luke has been a lead national investigator on clinical trials of immunotherapy agents including but not limited to anti-PD1/L1, CTLA4, LAG3, TIM3, GITR, OX40, CD137, CD40, inhibitors of indolamine-dioxygenase (IDO), adenosine A2a receptor and arginase as well as agonists of STING and oncolytic virus. Dr. Luke’s major research translational research is focused on using large scale informatics to advance the field of cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Luke received his M.D. from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago. He then pursued internship and residency at the Boston University Medical Center followed by medicine and medical oncology fellowships at Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Following fellowship, Dr. Luke was a tenure-track, Type 1 Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School as well as Staff Physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Thereafter Dr. Luke was an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. Dr. Luke is actively involved in several professional societies including the Society for Melanoma Research, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Dr. Luke has served as the chair of the education committee and as a member of the scientific committee for the melanoma track of the ASCO annual meeting. Dr. Luke has received several awards for research and clinical care including the Melanoma Research Foundation Humanitarian Award, Crain’s 40 under 40, Department of Defense Career Development Award, Paul Calabresi Career Development in Clinical Oncology Award (K12), ASCO Merit Award as well as Young Investigator Awards from the Melanoma Research Alliance, the Cancer Research Foundation and the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO. Dr. Luke’s research has been supported by ASCO, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the National Cancer Institute.

Amanda L. Lund, PhD NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Amanda W. Lund, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology and Department of Pathology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and is a Member of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health. She received a PhD in Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York (2009), and completed Postdoctoral training in cancer immunology at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. Dr. Lund’s early work established the paradigm that tumor-associated lymphatic vessel remodeling plays a role in regulating anti-tumor immunity where lymphatic vessels are both necessary for adaptive immune priming and also contribute to multiple mechanisms of immune resolution and tumor immune escape. This work established the hypothesis that lymphatic vessels may be manipulated for improved response to immunotherapy. Dr. Lund’s lab is focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms that govern lymphatic/immune interactions in melanoma and skin. Her lab has identified new mechanisms of lymphatic vessel activation that drive context-dependent changes in adaptive immune responses through direct effects on endothelial activation and fluid and cellular transport. Elucidation of these specific molecular mechanisms is expected to lead to targeted interventions to tune lymphatic transport and impact immune responses against developing tumors either alone or in combination with existing immunotherapies.

Jarushka Naidoo, MB BCh, MHS Beaumont Hospital Dublin
Dr. Jarushka Naidoo is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin (Ireland) and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bloomberg-Kimmel Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Naidoo graduated with her medical degree (MB BCh BAO) from Trinity College Dublin, and completed both internal medicine training and a medical oncology fellowship through the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. She then completed an awarded advanced fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York), and joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 2015. At Johns Hopkins, she led a portfolio of clinical trials and translational studies focused on immunotherapy for lung cancer and immune-related adverse events, and was the co-chair of the multidisciplinary Johns Hopkins Immune-related Toxicity Team. She recently returned to Ireland to lead the lung cancer program at Beaumont Hospital (Dublin) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland. She will also serve as the new chair of the thoracic committee for Cancer Trials Ireland, where she will direct and lead the national clinical trial program for lung and thoracic cancers. Dr. Naidoo currently leads investigator-initiated trials for patients with lung cancer, specifically for those with stage III non-small lung cancer, and those with CNS metastases. She is the Chair of the Immunotherapy Subcommittee of the NRG Clinical Trials Cooperative Group and serves on the ASCO and SITC Immune-Related Toxicity Guideline Panels. She is the recipient of several grants and awards including an NIH KL2 Clinical Scholar Award, as well as a Lung Cancer Foundation of America/IASLC Young Investigator Award on biomarkers of immunotherapy response and toxicity.

Aaron Ring, MD, PhD – Yale University School of Medicine
Aaron Ring received his undergraduate training at Yale University and entered the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program for his MD and PhD degrees. At Stanford, he worked in the laboratories of K. Christopher Garcia and Irving Weissman to use structure-based protein engineering to develop new cytokine and immune checkpoint therapies for cancer. Aaron joined the faculty of the Yale Department of Immunobiology in 2016 as the Robert T. McCluskey Yale Scholar. The focus of his research is to understand and manipulate the activity of immune receptors using precision immunopharmacology and systems immunology.

Ann W. Silk, MD, MSAnn Silk, MD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dr. Silk is a medical oncologist specializing in cutaneous oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She conducts clinical trials using microbial-based cancer therapies, cytokines, and immune checkpoint inhibitors, and is particularly interested in the intratumoral delivery of therapeutics and the treatment of brain metastases. Dr. Silk has been a member of SITC since 2013 and was a member of the Planning Committee for the inaugural ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium. She currently serves on the Communications Committee, the Certificate Program, and is the co-chair of the Cancer Immunotherapy Guideline development committee for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. She is an Associate Editor of the Oncolytic and Local Immunotherapy section of JITC and a co-leader of the Cytokine Working Group. Dr. Silk received her medical degree and master’s degree in Clinical Research from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Michigan in 2014. She joined the faculty at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2019, where she is the Co-Director of the Merkel Cell Carcinoma Center of Excellence.

Vernon Sondak, MD – H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Dr. Sondak is Chair of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. He holds the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cutaneous Oncology, and is also a Professor in the Departments of Oncologic Sciences and Surgery at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Since 2004, when he came to Tampa, the Cutaneous Oncology Clinic at Moffitt has grown into one of the largest multidisciplinary treatment centers for pediatric melanoma and related conditions in the world. Dr. Sondak has been a leader in studies of surgical treatment of melanoma and other cutaneous malignancies, particularly in the application of sentinel lymph node biopsy and lymph node dissection to the staging and treatment of melanoma, and has been instrumental in training many surgical oncologists in these techniques over the years. Dr. Sondak also has a strong research background: he served as Principal Investigator of the Moffitt Skin SPORE, a major NCI-funded “team science” grant conducting translational research in melanoma and other cutaneous malignancies. His research interests include surgical treatment of melanoma in adults and children; adjuvant (postoperative) and neoadjuvant (preoperative) therapy of melanoma; and evaluation of new therapies for patients with localized or disseminated melanoma.

SITC Related Resources

SITC offers a variety of professional development resources. Explore the pages below to learn more.