Early Career Scientist Speed Mentoring Event

A Pre-Conference Program; additional registration is required.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022

8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. EST*


*Times and program schedule subject to change.

Program Organizers

  • Kristin Anderson, PhD – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

  • Allison Betof Warner, MD, PhD – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

  • Ashley Koegel, MD – Bristol Myers Squibb

  • Aleksei Tikhonov, PhD – Gustave Roussy

Target Audience

The audience for the ECS Speed Mentoring Event includes Students and Scientists-in-Training who are seeking one-on-one career mentorship from experts in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Clinical fellows and clinical residents are also welcome to apply for this event. All mentees should be prior to assistant professorship. SITC membership is required for participation in the ECS Speed Mentoring event. Click here to become a member.

Program Description

The inaugural ECS Speed Mentoring Event will provide early career scientists the opportunity to receive mentorship from an expert in the field of cancer immunotherapy in a one-on-one setting. Hosted by SITC's Early Career Scientist Committee, mentees will be matched with an expert mentor in one of the following three categories: industry/non-academic careers, basic/translational science, or clinical science. Each mentee will receive one 15 minute discussion with an expert mentor. The remaining time will provide an opportunity for networking in an adjoining area. Mentees are required to apply to participate in this mentoring event and, upon acceptance, will be required to submit their CV and headshot.

Mentorship Topics

  • Industry/Non-Academic Careers

    • Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD – ESSA Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    • Daniel Chen, MD, PhD – Engenuity Life Sciences

    • Kristen Hege, MD – Bristol Myers Squibb

    • Francesco Marincola, MD – Kite, A Gilead Company

    • Ira Mellman, PhD – Genentech

    • Pedro J. Romero, MD – University of Lausanne

  • Clinical Science

    • Genevive Boland, MD, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital

    • Elizabeth Jaffee, MD – Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University

    • Jennifer McQuade, MD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    • Hussein Tawbi, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 

  • Basic/Translational Science

    • Yvonne Chen, PhD – University of California, Los Angeles

    • Jose Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD – Moffitt Cancer Center

    • Tanja de Gruijl, PhD – VU University Medical Center

    • Greg Delgoffe, PhD – University of Pittsburgh

    • Nir Hacohen, PhD – Broad Institute

    • Katayoun Rezvani, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    • Caroline Robert, MD, PhD – Institut Gustave Roussy

    • E. John Wherry, PhD - University of Pennsylvania


    Program Faculty

    *Mentors are subject to change and one-on-one time with any particular mentor or mentoring in any particular topic cannot be guaranteed.


    Genevieve Boland, MD, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital

    Genevieve.png

    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.

    Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD – ESSA Pharma Inc.

    Alessandra.png

    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.

    Daniel S. Chen, MD, PhD – Engenuity Life Sciences

    Daniel S. Chen, MD, PhD, is the founder and managing partner of Engenuity Life Sciences, former Vice President, Global Head of Cancer Immunotherapy Development at Genentech/Roche and former Chief Medical Officer for IGM Biosciences. He has also founded Synthetic Design Labs and Bionic Cell Medicines. He received a BS degree in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1990), a PhD in Microbiology & Immunology (1996) and MD (1998) from the University of Southern California. His PhD work and publications focused on “Early Events in Coronavirus Infection.” Daniel completed an Internal Medicine Residency and Medical Oncology Fellowship at Stanford University (2003). He went on to complete a Post-doctoral fellowship with Mark Davis in Immunology, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate. He also ran the metastatic melanoma clinic at the Stanford Cancer Center from 2003-2006. In that time, he studied human anti-cancer immune responses pre- and post- cancer vaccination and cytokine administration to determine why anti-tumor immune responses were not more clinically effective. He received a U19 grant to develop better immunologic tools to interrogate human immune responses and ultimately patented the MHC cellular microarray to detect and functionally characterize antigen-specific T cell states. He continued as Adjunct Clinical Faculty at Stanford from 2006-2016, where he cared for melanoma patients. At Genentech from 2006-2018, Daniel focused on the clinical development of anti-angiogenic and immune modulatory targeted therapies in both early and late Development, as well as the diagnostic tools to aid their development. This included leading the clinical development for atezolizumab, a PD-L1 inhibitor, from the time the program was in research through IND, Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, to filing and approvals in multiple indications worldwide. At IGM Biosciences, Daniel focused on the development of novel engineered multivalent and multispecific therapeutics and helped lead this from pre-clinical to having multiple therapeutics in the clinic in Phase I/II. He is a reviewer for Nature, Immunity, Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Clinical Cancer Research, served on the Board of Directors for SITC, has been a recurring session organizer and session chair for PEGS Europe on engineered therapeutics since 2019, gave the keynote presentation at the AACR NCI EORTC Annual Meeting 2014 and presented at the US Congressional Briefing on Immuno Oncology in 2017. He has continued to publish with academic and industry collaborators in the field of cancer immunotherapy, including the often-referenced Chen and Mellman manuscripts, “Oncology meets Immunology: the Cancer-Immunity Cycle,” “Elements of cancer immunity and the cancer-immune set point” and the Hegde and Chen manuscript “Top 10 Challenges in Cancer Immunotherapy.”

    Yvonne Chen, PhD  – University of California, Los Angeles

    Dr. Yvonne Chen is an Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at UCLA. She is the co-director of the Tumor Immunology program in the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA, and a member researcher of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The Chen Laboratory applies biomolecular engineering techniques to the development of novel mammalian-cell systems for clinical use, and Dr. Chen led the first investigator-sponsored clinical trial on CAR-T cell therapy at UCLA. The Chen Lab’s work has been recognized by the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Award, and the Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old STAR Award, among others. Prior to joining UCLA in 2013, Yvonne was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. Yvonne received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

     

    Jose Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD – Moffitt Cancer Center

    Dr. Jose Conejo-Garcia is the Chair of the Department of Immunology and co-leader of the Immuno-Oncology Program at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Research Institute. He completed his medical degree, residency and PhD in Spain, before completing post doctorate training in Switzerland, Germany and the University of Pennsylvania, where  he contributed to identify for the first time the role of T cell responses in the outcome of ovarian cancer patients. He was a faculty at Dartmouth College and The Wistar Institute, before moving to Moffitt in November 2016.

    Dr. Conejo-Garcia’s research program focuses on understanding and targeting mechanisms governing the balance between immunosuppression and protective immunity in the tumor microenvironment, with an emphasis on the crosstalk between the cellular and humoral arms of the adaptive immune system, and innate gamma/delta T cells. He has been continuously funded since 2007 and has published >180 papers that total >16,000 Scopus citations.

    Tanja de Gruijl, PhD – VU University Medical Center

    Tanja de Gruijl heads the Immunotherapy and Immune monitoring Lab at the Cancer Center of the VU University medical center (VUmc) in Amsterdam, where she has been appointed Professor of Translational Tumour Immunology. Her research ranges from preclinical topics to immune monitoring of Phase I-III clinical trials. Her main line of research is the in vivo targeting and modulation of dendritic cells (DC) in tumour-draining lymph nodes and  the tumour microenvironment. Further topics of research include tumour-mediated immune suppression, control of myeloid differentiation, and the targeting of NK, iNKT, and γδ-T cells. Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Royal Dutch Cancer Society (KWF), and she is a recipient of a competitive research award of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. She is a member of the Grant Review committee of the Melanoma Research Alliance, a member of the scientific council of the Dutch Cancer Society, has chaired the Dutch Tumour Immunology Working Party, and is currently co-chair of the International Advisory Committee of the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).


    Greg Delgoffe, PhD – University of Pittsburgh

    Delgoffe.pngGreg 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.


    Nir Hacohen, PhD – Broad Institute

    Dr. Hacohen leads a group of immunologists, geneticists, biochemists, technologists and computational biologists to develop unbiased strategies to dissect immune response in health and disease, with an emphasis on the innate immune system and personal medicine. Three major questions are addressed. How are immune responses against cancer initiated, maintained and evaded? What are the immune circuits that sense and control pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria? How does immunity against the body develop in autoimmunity? The group also applies unbiased analytical strategies to develop real-world therapeutics, with completed and ongoing human clinical trials of personal neoantigen vaccines based on a computational analysis of the personal tumor genome (with Dr. Catherine Wu).

    Dr. Hacohen is the Director of the Center for Cancer Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Co-Director of the Center for Cell Circuits at the Broad Institute.


    Kristen Hege, MD – Bristol Myers Squibb

    Kristen.pngDr. 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.


    Elizabeth Jaffee, MD – Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University

    After graduating Magna cum laude from Brandeis University, Dr. Jaffee received her M.D. from New York Medical College. She completed her internship and residency at University of Pittsburgh, Presbyterian-University Hospital, then received an NIH Research Training Grant as a Research Fellow and Principal Investigator at the University of Pittsburgh under the guidance of Fran Finn, Ph.D., Research Director.  Dr. Jaffee came to The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore where she was a Senior Oncology Fellow from 1989 – 1992.   In 1992, Dr. Jaffee was appointed Assistant Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSOM), and Professor in 2002.  She holds faculty positions in the Graduate Programs in Pharmacology, Immunology and Cell and Molecular Medicine (CMM). Dr. Jaffee currently serves as Deputy Director for the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins.

    Dr. Jaffee has served on many committees at the National Cancer Institute and is currently Chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board.  Dr. Jaffee served as co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel that provided scientific advice for Vice President Biden’s Moonshot Initiative, and now serves on the Biden Cancer Initiative board of directors. She has served on the Board of Directors for AACR, was Chair of the AACR CIMM Steering Committee, and has served as a Co-Organizer for the AACR Special Conference on Cancer Immunology in 2010 and 2012, and a Keystone meeting dedicated to Immune Based Therapies in 2015.  Dr. Jaffee also serves on many advisory boards, including The University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, Duke Cancer Institutes’ Scientific Advisory Board, and on the External Advisory Boards of the Seattle Breast Spore and the University of Alabama GI SPORE.  She has mentored 26 post-doctoral fellows and 25 graduate students, has over 180 peer review publications, and is a nationally and internationally recognized guest lecturer. Dr. Jaffee’s interests are in vaccine and immunotherapy development for pancreatic and breast cancers.  Dr. Jaffee is the 2015 AACR Burchenal Award Recipient. Dr. Jaffee is Present-Elect of AACR for the 2017-2018 term. 

     

    Francesco Marincola, MD – Kite, A Gilead Company

    Francesco Marincola, MD, joined Kite in 2021 as Global Head of Cell Therapy Research.

    Before joining Kite, Francesco was President and Chief Scientific Officer at Refuge Biotechnologies where responsible for the development and implementation of research and clinical development strategies for adoptive cell therapy products and lead therapeutic programs based on nuclease deactivated CRISPR circuits. He is also a National Institutes of Health (NIH) tenured senior investigator in cancer immunotherapy and biomarker research, and spent 23 years at the NIH, including 15 years as the Chief of the Infectious Disease and Immunogenetics Section at the NIH Clinical Center. Previously, he also served as a distinguished research fellow in immune oncology discovery at AbbVie and as Chief Research Officer at Sidra Research in Doha, Qatar.

    The former President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC; 2013-2014), Francesco currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for several prominent peer-reviewed publications, including Journal of Translational Medicine, Translational Medicine Communications and Immunotherapy, and is the author of more than 600 peer-reviewed publications. He has edited several books including the SITC-affiliated Cancer Immunotherapy Principles and Practice Textbook.

    Jennifer McQuade, MD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Dr. McQuade is an Assistant Professor and Physician Scientist in Melanoma Medical Oncology at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. McQuade completed her medical training at Baylor College of Medicine, residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and her fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center prior to joining the faculty in 2018. Her research focuses on how host factors and the microbiome influence tumor biology and the anti-tumor immune response with the goal of developing novel strategies to improve outcomes with approved therapies in melanoma and other cancers. This includes work showing that obesity is paradoxically associated with improved outcomes with both immune and targeted therapy in melanoma published in Lancet Oncology in 2018 and work showing connections between diet, the microbiome and response to immunotherapy published in Science in 2021. Her translational lab is focused on elucidating the biological basis of the “obesity paradox” and mechanisms underlying diet-microbiome-immunity interactions. She leads both large cohort studies with robust biospecimen collection as well as dietary intervention clinical trials with parallel preclinical studies.   

    Ira Mellman, PhD – Genentech

    Ira Mellman is Vice President of Cancer Immunology at Genentech, having previously served on the Yale University School of Medicine faculty as department chair, a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, scientific director of the Yale Cancer Center, and Sterling Professor of Cell Biology & Immunobiology. Dr. Mellman is a graduate of Oberlin and Yale, and performed postdoctoral work with Ralph Steinman at Rockefeller University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, EMBO and AACR Board of Directors. Dr. Mellman’s laboratory is known for advances in cell biology (including the discovery of endosomes) and for applying these insights to understanding the immune response.  Of particular importance have the elucidation of how dendritic cells initiate immunity or maintain immune tolerance, forming the basis for modern efforts in cancer vaccines.  Other notable advances include demonstrating how T cell signaling is regulated by the PD-L1/PD-1 pathway, the basis of immune heterogeneity in cancer, and the conceptualization of the Cancer Immunity Cycle.  Ira is responsible for having brought Genentech’s anti-PD-L1 antibody Tecentriq® (atezolizumab; now a marketed product) to the clinic.  He also directed the discovery and early development of tiragolumab (anti-TIGIT; now in pivotal studies), iNeST-RNA (in collaboration with BioNTech; now in Phase II), cobimetinib (MEK inhibitor), mosunetuzumab (CD20-CD3 bispecific antibody), and ipatasertib (Akt inhibitor), among others. Recent awards include Yale’s highest honor the Wilbur Cross medal and the 2019 Leadership Award in Cancer Immunology from the American Association for Precision Medicine.


    Katayoun Rezvani, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Katy Rezvani M.D, PhD is the Sally Cooper Murray Chair in Cancer Research, Professor of Medicine, Chief of Section for Cellular Therapy, Director of Translational Research and Director of the GMP Facility at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Adoptive Cell Therapy Platform at MD Anderson. Her research laboratory focuses on the role of natural killer (NK) cells in mediating immunity against hematologic and solid tumors. The goal of this research is to understand mechanisms of tumor-induced NK cell dysfunction and to develop strategies to genetically engineer NK cells in order to enhance their in vivo anti-tumor activity and persistence. Findings from Dr. Rezvani’s lab have led to the approval and funding of several investigator-initiated clinical trials of NK cell immunotherapy in patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors, as well as the first-in-human clinical trial of off-the-shelf CAR-transduced cord blood NK cells in patients with relapsed/refractory lymphoid malignancies. Dr. Rezvani’s work is supported by multiple grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society, Stand Up to Cancer and the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Dr. Rezvani completed her medical training at University College London, followed by Fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists of the United Kingdom, a Ph.D. in Immunology from Imperial College London and postdoctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health.

    Caroline Robert, MD, PhD – Institut Gustave Roussy

    Caroline Robert, M.D., Ph.D. did her MD training at the Paris V University Medicine School, France and completed a research fellowship at Harvard, Brigham & Women’s hospital, Boston MA, USA in Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. She is presently Head of the Dermatology Service at Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus and co-director of the Melanoma Research Unit at INSERM 981 Paris-Sud University. She is full Professor of Dermatology and responsible for teaching Dermatology and Dermato-Oncology in Paris-Saclay University Medicine School. Her main interests are clinical and translational Research on Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers involving immunotherapy and targeted therapy. She is national and international coordinator of many clinical trials from phase I to III dedicated to patients with melanoma and other skin cancers. Her research work focuses on the involvement of the control of mRNA translation in resistance to cancer therapies. The objectives are the identification of new predictive biomarkers as well as the development of new therapies to delay therapeutic resistance. She has authored more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. She is a member of the editorial board of Cell and New England Journal of Medicine Evidence. She and past-president the Melanoma group of the EORTC and is board member of several European and US cooperative groups: EADO, ESMO, EADV, ASCO and AACR. She has received several awards and prizes including, Estela Medrano Award for the Society for Melanoma Research in 2018, the ESMO Woman Award in 2020. She was elected as a corresponding member of the French National Academy of Medicine in 2019. She was made a knight of the French Legion of Honor in 2014 and an Officer of the French National Order of Merit in 2021.


    Pedro J. Romero, MD – University of Lausanne

    Pedro Romero is Deputy Scientific Managing Director of the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and is an Honorary Professor of the University of Lausanne. Dr. Romero previously served as a Professor at the Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne from 2003 to 2021.

    Dr. Romero obtained his M.D. at the School of Medicine of the National University of Colombia in Bogota in 1982. He researched at the Institute of Immunology in Bogota and then at the Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology at New York University School of Medicine before joining the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR), Epalinges, Switzerland, in 1989. In 2001, Dr. Romero became division Head of Clinical Onco-Immunology at the LICR in Lausanne (CHUV).

     

    Dr. Romero is a 2001 recipient of the Robert Wenner prize from the Swiss Cancer League on Applied Cancer Research. He was bestowed the Doctor Honoris Causa of Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 2013. In addition to other honors, his continued service as the founding Editor-in-Chief of Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) – the official journal of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) – led to the creation of the annual Pedro J. Romero Service to JITC Award, which was awarded to him in the inaugural year (2020). Dr. Romero also holds a number of patents and has published more than 320 articles, describing his scientific works in tumor immunology and peptide-based immunotherapy.


     

    Hussein Tawbi, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Hussein Tawbi is Professor of Medical Oncology, Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, and Director of Melanoma Clinical Research and Early Drug Development at the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Tawbi joined MD Anderson in 2015 and in addition to being a melanoma clinician, he develops and conducts multiple clinical trials with translational endpoints in melanoma, sarcoma, and immunotherapy. His role at MD Anderson includes providing the vision and direction of clinical translational research at the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology and enhance the operations of the clinical research staff.

    Dr. Tawbi obtained his MD in 2001 from the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. Dr. Tawbi completed his training in Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh and joined the faculty ranks at the University of Pittsburgh as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. His clinical training was coupled with formal instruction in Clinical and Translational Research that culminated in a PhD degree in Clinical and Translational Science in 2011. Dr. Tawbi joined the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as Associate Professor in the Departments of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Investigational Cancer Therapeutics in November 2015, and recently appointed Director of Melanoma Clinical Research and Early Drug Development. The primary focus of his research has been early phase studies of novel agents in melanoma and sarcoma. Dr. Tawbi have designed, and conducted several Phase I and Phase II studies in both diseases. Specifically he participated in the early studies of targeted agents (vemurafenib, dabrafenib, and trametinib) and immunotherapy agents (nivolumab and pembrolizumab). He has been interested in the study of special populations including patients with organ dysfunction and patients with melanoma brain metastases. Given that patients with melanoma brain metastases have been traditionally excluded from clinical trials, Dr. Tawbi has participated, conducted and led multicenter Phase II studies dedicated to this population and have recently shown that the combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab in untreated melanoma brain metastases is safe and has a high rate of durable responses exceeding 55%.

    Dr. Tawbi has over 150 publications including high impact journals such as New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Science Translational Medicine, Cancer, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, among others. He is an active member of SWOG, NCI-CTEP Organ Dysfunction Working Group, the Society for Melanoma Research, the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), ASCO, and AACR.


    E. John Wherry, PhD – University of Pennsylvania

    Wherry.png 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.

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    *Mentees will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

    SITC Membership

    SITC membership is required for participation in the ECS Speed Mentoring event. Click here to become a member.

    Additional Early Career Scientist Offerings at SITC 2022

    Wednesday, Nov. 9

    Omni Hotel Boston

    Meet-the-Expert Lunch

    Wednesday, Nov. 9
    11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m.

    Grant Writing Workshop

    Wednesday, Nov. 9
    5:45–7:50 p.m. EST 

    ECS Networking Reception

    Wednesday, Nov. 9
    9–10:30 p.m.


    Thursday, Nov. 10 – Friday, Nov. 11

    Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

    Visit SITC's Early Career Scientist Hub, The Node, is specifically designed for early career attendees to network, collaborate and relax during SITC 2022.

    Click here for more information.

    Other Opportunities

    Interested in other mentorship opportunities? The Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) is launching a Peer Review Mentorship Program. Early career professionals with limited or no peer reviewing experience are encouraged to apply to be mentees. Applications for mentees will be accepted from August 15th–September 14th. Learn more.

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