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
    • Tullia Bruno, PhD University of Pittsburgh
    • Yousef Zakharia, MD – University of Iowa 
  • 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
    • John Wherry, PhD University of Pennsylvania 
  • Immunotherapy Based Early-Phase Clinical Trials and Research
    • Ryan Sullivan, MD Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Career Path: The Big Pharma Industry Perspective
    • Mark Cobbold, PhD - AstraZeneca
  • 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
    • Ann Silk, MD Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    • Geraldine O'Sullivan Coyne, MD, PhD – National Institutes of Health
  • How to Navigate the Postdoc to PI Transition (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
    • Kristen Hege, MD Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Spinning Your Lab into a Small Business or Starting Your Own Startup Company
    • Dario Vignali, PhD – University of Pittsburgh
  • Building Bridges to Bring Research from the Bench to the Bedside
    • Jason Luke, MD, FACP UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
  • Balancing the Clinic with Your Lab
    • Genevieve Boland, MD, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Finding a Mentor, Advisor, and Sponsor
    • Lisa Butterfield, PhD Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Program Faculty

Genevieve Boland, MD, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital
Genevieve M. Boland, MD, PhD, FACS is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Section Head of Melanoma/Sarcoma Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Her primary clinical focus is on melanoma and cutaneous oncology. She undertook combined MD/PhD training, completing a PhD in Cell and Tissue Engineering at the National Institutes of Health focusing on signaling pathways in adult, human mesenchymal stem cells. She graduated cum laude from Thomas Jefferson University as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and completed her general surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital. Following this, she completed a clinical fellowship in Complex General Surgical Oncology and a combined research fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She joined the MGH Division of Surgical Oncology and is focused on the clinical management of skin cancer patients. She is board certified in General Surgery and Complex General Surgical Oncology, and she is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Boland has received many awards including the American Surgical Association Foundation Fellowship, the Association of Women Surgeons Research Fellowship, the Harvard Catalyst Medical Research Investigator Training Award, the Karin Grunebaum Cancer Foundation Fellowship, and the Society of Surgical Oncology Clinical Investigator Award. She is Director of the Surgical Oncology Research Laboratories and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her laboratory is currently focused on molecular profiling of melanoma, characterization of molecular and immunological changes that occur during immunotherapy, and the identification of circulating biomarkers of cancer.

Tullia Bruno, PhD University of Pittsburgh
Tullia C. Bruno, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh and a faculty member in the Cancer Immunology Program and Tumor Microenvironment Center at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. She obtained her B.S. in Chemistry in 2005 from Vanderbilt University, where she received a full academic scholarship. She obtained her PhD in Immunology from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2010 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado and National Jewish Health in 2015—both with a focus in tumor immunology. While Dr. Bruno’s PhD training focused on inhibitory receptors on intratumoral CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, she became interested in tumor infiltrating B cells (TIL- B) during her postdoctoral fellowship and has built her independent research program around understanding their function in multiple human cancers, in particular, lung and head and neck cancer. Dr. Bruno’s overall research objective is to develop a TIL-B-specific immunotherapy in the next five to ten years.

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.

Mark Cobbold, MD, PhD AstraZeneca
Dr. Mark Cobbold, MD, PhD is the Head of Discovery for ICA (Immuno-Oncology, Cell Therapy, and Antibody-Drug Conjugates) and he is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Cobbold is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on understanding how the healthy human immune response can recognize and target cancerous cells. He is a UK-trained clinician scientist with training in cancer immunology. Early in his career, he pioneered antigen-specific adoptive cell therapy for patients who had received a stem cell transplant, work that led to an EMA approved cell therapy (Cytovir- CMV). Dr. Cobbold went on to characterize phosphorylated, glycosylated and methylated neoantigens in cancer, work that will shortly be taken into the clinic. Most recently he has developed three new classes of T-cell engaging therapeutic antibody platforms (APEC, TEAC and ATTAC). As an entrepreneur he is a scientific founder of several biotech companies including SeraScience, PhosImmune, Revitope Oncology, Gritstone Oncology, GigaMune and C-Reveal.

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.

Kristen Hege, MD
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Dr. Hege is SVP, Early Clinical Development, Hematology/Oncology & Cell Therapy at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) where she is responsible for advancing a pipeline of small molecules, biologics and cell therapies from first-in-human studies through clinical proof-of-concept. In addition, she led the bluebird-partnered BCMA CART cell program (ide-cel; Abecma) in multiple myeloma from inception through FDA approval earlier this year. Prior to joining BMS she was head of Translational Development at Celgene and has held multiple executive roles in biotech at Cell Genesys, Cellerant, and Theraclone. In addition to her work at BMS, Dr. Hege is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF where she continues to see patients with blood cancers weekly. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Mersana Therapeutics and Graphite Bio and was elected to the Board of Directors for the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) for a 3-year term from 2016-2019. Dr. Hege received her M.D. at UCSF and internal medicine residency and hematology/oncology subspecialty training at Harvard and UCSF, respectively. She was recognized by Fierce Biotech as one of the top 12 women in Biopharma in 2015, by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association as a “Luminary” in 2019, by San Francisco Business Times as one of the most influential women in Bay Area business in 2021 and most recently as a PharmVOICE100 honoree. Her career path and long history with CAR T cell development was featured as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of Nature Medicine.

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.

Geraldine O'Sullivan Coyne, MD, PhD National Institutes of Health
Geraldine O’Sullivan Coyne, MD, PhD is an Associate Research Physician in the Developmental Therapeutics Clinic (DTC), Early Clinical Trials Development Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health, USA. She completed General Medicine training together with her PhD (Molecular Medicine) followed by Medical Oncology training in Ireland prior to further clinical fellowships in Hematology/Oncology and Advanced Developmental Therapeutics at NCI. She is Head of the Clinical Sciences Section and leads a number of early phase clinical trials at the Developmental Therapeutics Clinic. Her research interests include the DTC's sarcoma and rare tumors initiatives through the ongoing partnership with the Pediatric Oncology Branch (POB) at NCI for the enrollment of adult patients with NF1 associated malignancies in early phase clinical trials, and pharmacodynamic-driven immune agent trials.

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.

Ryan Sullivan, MD – Massachusetts General Hospital
Ryan Sullivan is a clinical and translational investigator whose main areas of interest are the development of novel therapies for malignant melanoma, particularly concomitant oncogene and apoptosis targeting as well as concomitant molecular and immune targeting, and the development of clinical biomarkers for these investigational as well as standard treatment approaches. At the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, he serves as the Associate Program Director of the Melanoma Progra, is a member of both the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapy and the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. His experience as a clinical investigator includes serving as the Principal Investigator (PI) for numerous industry, NIH (CTEP P9466, P9557), and investigator sponsored clinical trials. His experience in translational investigation includes running a Cytokine Working Group trial to identify biomarkers that predict outcome to patients with melanoma treated with high-dose IL2, a number of collaborations looking to identify predictive biomarkers of response to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in patients with advanced melanoma, and the development of blood-based biomarkers that will allow us to better select patients for a given therapy or better follow patients on active therapy. Finally, he has been involved in a number of seminal descriptions of immune checkpoint inhibitor related toxicity.

Dario Vignali, PhD –  University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Vignali began his academic career at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he became Vice Chair and Full Professor. In 2014, Dr. Vignali moved to the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine to become Vice Chair and Professor of Immunology, and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center to become Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program and Co-Director of the Tumor Microenvironment Center. Dr. Vignali’s research focuses on gaining a better understanding of the inhibitory mechanisms, including inhibitory receptors and regulatory T cells, that limit anti-tumor immunity in cancer and are insufficient in autoimmune disease. He also has discovery-based programs aimed at identifying novel targets for therapeutic intervention. He also works with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center scientists and clinicians to facilitate the translation of novel therapeutic modalities with a focus on immunologically impacted solid tumors (primarily head and neck, melanoma, lung, ovarian, breast). His UPMC Hillman Cancer Center leadership efforts, in part as co-leader of the Cancer Immunology & Immunotherapy Program, are directed toward providing a bridge between basic and transitional cancer immunology. Lastly, he also works extensively with large and start-up biopharmaceutical companies to bring novel therapeutics to the clinic. Dr. Vignali has published 205 papers and has strong grant support (R35, P01, 2 R01s, plus other sources). He has received multiple honors: Highly Cited Researcher 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 (top 1% by citations - Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics); The Robert and Janice Compton Research Grant, In Honor of Elizabeth S. Compton from the JDRF, the 2007 Faculty Mentoring Award from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the 2018 Merril J. Egorin Excellence in Scientific Leadership Award and the 2019 PNC Elsie Hillman Distinguished Scholar Award. Dr. Vignali serves/has served as a member of: the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) (1998-present); Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) (2013-present); American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) (2016-present); Permanent Member-NIH Cell Mediated Immunity Study Section A (CMI-A) (2005-2009); The Journal of Immunology-Section Editor (2008-2012); Cancer Immunology Research-Commissioning Deputy Editor (2016-2018).

John Wherry, PhD – University of Pennsylvania
Dr. E. John Wherry is the Barbara and Richard Schiffrin President’s Distinguished Professor, Chair of the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine and Director of the UPenn Institute for Immunology. Dr. Wherry received his Ph.D. at Thomas Jefferson University in 2000 and performed postdoctoral research at Emory University from 2000-2004. Dr. Wherry has received numerous honors including the Distinguished Alumni award from the Thomas Jefferson University and the Cancer Research Institute’s Frederick W. Alt Award for New Discoveries in Immunology. Dr. Wherry has over 260 publications, an H-Index of 110, and his publications have been cited over 67,000 times. Dr. Wherry helped pioneered the field of T cell exhaustion, the mechanisms by which T cell responses are attenuated during chronic infections and cancer. He helped identify the role of the “checkpoint” molecule PD-1 and others for reinvigoration of exhausted T cells in cancer. Dr. Wherry’s work has defined the underlying molecular and epigenetic mechanisms of exhausted T cells. His laboratory has also recently focused on applying systems immunology approaches to define Immune Health patients across a spectrum of diseases. In 2020-2021, Dr. Wherry’s laboratory focused considerable efforts on the immunology of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 vaccination including establishing a new Immune Health Project to interrogate and use immune features to identify novel treatment opportunities.

Yousef Zakharia, MD–  University of Iowa
Dr. Zakharia is a medical oncologist specializing in melanoma and genitourinary malignancy (focus on renal and bladder cancers). Currently Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine, and Phase 1 Program Director at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr Zakharia gained significant interest in immunotherapy-based early phase clinical trial design early on in his career, as he participated in many such trials and associated translational work, including multi-center investigations that are currently showing promising results in different malignancies. Along with his collaborators, they are launching a new first in human investigator-initiated phase 1 study combining high-dose selenium with pembrolizumab and axitinib in metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma. He also helped designing a multi-center trial and protocol for a phase 1/2 clinical trial combining indoximod “an IDO inhibitor” with checkpoint inhibitors in metastatic melanoma patients. He presented this study at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting plenary session in Washington, D.C, April 2017, and at the CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR annual meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, September 2017, more recently this study was published at JITC 2021. Dr Zakharia is SITC member since 2016 and a board of directors’ member for the Mid-West Melanoma Partnership.

SITC Related Resources

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