Session Descriptions

Session 102: Biomarkers 


Sacha Gnjatic, PhD – Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Kerry L. Reynolds, MD – Massachusetts General Hospital

Biomarker research in cancer immunotherapy aims to guide patient selection and treatment choice, via molecular signals that describe mechanisms of action for therapies and/or help predict clinical outcomes. FDA-approved biomarkers, such as PD-L1 expression or tumor mutation burden, are useful but imperfect, and fail to capture the complexity of the immune networks at play. This session will review state-of-the-art approaches in biomarker discovery using high-dimensional exploration of tissue and blood, at the genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and microbiome level, in relation to response and adverse events. The complexity of these methods requires concerted efforts from networks of investigators with clinical, immunological, technological, and computational expertise. The speakers are representative of federally and philanthropy supported teams who will present their recent findings and share their thoughts on what remains to be done in the field.

Session 106: Integrating Radiation and Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Oligometastatic Disease


Samir N. Khleif, MD – Georgetown University Medical Center
Andrew Sikora, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

This educational session will feature clinically-relevant discussion of the safety, efficacy, and optimal approaches to integrating radiation and immunotherapy for the treatment of patients with oligometastatic cancers based on current scientific and clinical data. Topics will include current clinical efficacy and safety data, treatment sequencing, and radiotherapy dosing, fractionation, target selection, and organs at risk - with specific consideration of optimizing systemic anti-tumor immunity. A discussion of future directions and research opportunities will explore the potential for integrating novel forms of radiotherapy and immunotherapies in the treatment of patients with oligometastatic disease.

Session 107: Immuno-oncology in the Age of Multi-omics: Translating Big Data into Clinical Discoveries


Kellie N. Smith – Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Linghua Wang, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 

Recent advances in single-cell and spatial sequencing technologies have fundamentally altered our understanding of the highly complex and dynamically evolving tumor ecosystems and the mechanisms governing immunotherapy resistance in cancer patients. In this session, we will focus on the application of different single-cell and spatial multi-omics approaches in the field of cancer immunobiology and immunotherapy and discuss how these different approaches can be efficiently used for interrogating cancer cells and their microenvironments at cellular and molecular levels. We will also touch on the challenges of big data in cancer and new possibilities of harnessing big data to accelerate translational cancer research.

Session 1081: Pre-Clinical/Model Systems vs. Human 


Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD – Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University
Robert D. Schreiber, PhD – Washington University School of Medicine

Advances in our understanding of how the immune system interacts with tumors has changed how we treat many previously deadly human cancers.  Current immunotherapy successes are the result of more than 30 years of discovery research employing both preclinical and clinical approaches.   However, there has been a recent movement in the field that questions the utility of preclinical tumor models in predicting successful therapeutic antitumor immune responses in humans.   This session will feature 4 experts in the field who will set the stage for a debate on the value of different experimental models in informing us in how best to treat human cancers using contemporary and future cancer immunotherapy approaches. 

Session 108: Immune-Related Adverse Events: Current Status of Research and Paths Forward


Elad Sharon, MD, MPH – National Cancer Institute
Chloe Villani, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionized cancer treatment. Since 2011, there have been more than 80 FDA-approved indications for the use of ICI therapy in the treatment of more than 17 cancer types, as well as any tumor that has microsatellite instability and/or a high tumor mutational burden.  With the expanding number of approvals, the number of patients eligible for ICI therapy is dramatically increasing. Unfortunately, the success of ICIs has been accompanied by the emergence of treatment-induced toxicities termed immune-related adverse events (irAEs), which can develop during or after treatment, impact any organ system and be lethal. irAEs have been reported in up to 90% of participants on clinical trials who received single-agent or combination ICI therapy. Importantly, roughly 10%–30% of participants develop grade ≥3 irAEs, depending on the regimen used. Management of irAEs may require hospitalization and administration of immune-suppressing agents including steroids, and ICI therapy is often interrupted or stopped due to irAEs. Given the profound clinical implications of irAEs, a better understanding of these clinical presentations is crucial to prevent their occurrence, improve treatment outcomes, and develop rigorous pathways for irAE management. In this session, we will review the current landscape of irAE efforts, including irAE-specific clinical trials and new concerns for patients who are now receiving ICIs even in the adjuvant setting.  We will also provide an overview of currently most optimal management of rare toxicities and discuss available data on survivorship. Finally, we will discuss results of cutting-edge translational work being perform on patient specimens aimed at furthering our mechanistic understanding of these irAE presentations, with the ultimate goals of identifying novel predictive biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

Session 109: Advances in Imaging Biomarkers, Radiomics, and Artificial Intelligence


Pedram Heidari, MD – Massachusetts General Hospital
Bachir Taouli, MD – Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

There is no predictive non-invasive biomarker for response assessment in immunotherapy to date. Most patients do not respond to immunotherapy while experiencing severe immune-related adverse events (irAE), which could be debilitating and life-threatening. Therefore, it is crucial to differentiate responders from non-responders early during therapy to avoid untoward adverse reactions in patients not benefiting from immunotherapy. The standard imaging techniques and criteria for response assessment may be limited by the initial paradoxical increase in lesion size and metabolic activity secondary to an inflammatory reaction to cancer. This highlights the need for non-invasive predictive tools and criteria to segregate responders from non-responders early during therapy. In this session, we review an overview of different immunotherapy-oriented response imaging assessment criteria and quantitative radiomics and artificial intelligence for analyzing the image datasets, and the development of novel imaging biomarkers in the pipeline for stratifying responders and non-responders.

Session 110: Bias & Diversity in Cancer Research


Avery D. Posey, PhD – University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Cardinale Smith, MD, PhD – The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai

This session will discuss the barriers to diverse participation of patients stratified by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography in cancer clinical trials as well as introduce strategies to increase diverse representation. Attendees will be informed about current best practices for clinical trial enrollment to reflect the diversity of the patient population and/or institutional catchment area.

Session 112: Cancer Immunogenomics and Immune Response 


Elaine Mardis, PhD – Nationwide Children's Hospital
Charles Swanton, MD, PhD, FRCP – University of London

Immune-therapy is an increasingly important treatment modality across a broad range of solid and haematologic malignancies. Despite these advances, many patients fail to benefit, and some tumour types remain disappointingly refractory to immune modulation.

Over recent years cancer sequencing studies have revealed increasing evidence of cancer cell immune evasion mechanisms. In this session, experts will review emerging evidence regarding why GBM appears so resistant to immune interventions, how germline and tumour somatic variation influence outcomes in response to immune therapy, emphasizing the importance of cataloguing genomic diversity, and how new immune-therapy targets can be deciphered from model systems.

Session 113: Cellular Therapies + Bispecifics


Djordje Atanackovic, MD – University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
Yvonne Chen, PhD – University of California, Los Angeles

This session will explore advancements in cell-based immunotherapies as well as bispecific immune engagers for the treatment of cancer.  Dr. Katy Rezvani and Dr. David Miklos will present preclinical and clinical data on the development of NK cell therapy and bispecific T-cell engagers (BiTEs). The session will provide an overview and discussion on next-generation therapies as well as the challenges we face in their clinical advancement.

Session 116: Cancer Immunotherapy in Special Patient Populations


Crystal Mackall, MD – Stanford University
Keith Sigel, MD, PhD – Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

In this session we will feature research and presentations from experts who have studied the use of immunotherapy in patient populations who may have unique harm/benefit profiles or who have had limited representation in clinical trials. Dr. Sondel will discuss immunotherapy in the pediatric population, Dr. Chiao will present information on immunotherapy in people living with HIV and Dr. Sharon will provide a discussion on use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment in patients with rheumatologic diseases. This session will provide an update on clinical and translational information related to these unique patient populations in the context of cancer immunotherapy.

Session 117: Targeting the Tumor and the Immune System: New Combinatorial Strategies


Sandra Demaria, MD – Weill Cornell Medicine
Raghu Kalluri, MD, PhD –
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) are effective against tumors that spontaneously engage the immune system, as evidenced by the presence of T cells that can be activated and re-invigorated by ICI, enabling tumor rejection. In many patients, however, the pre-existing anti-tumor T cells are lacking or insufficient to achieve responses, or the tumor microenvironment presents barriers to T cell infiltration that cannot be overcome by ICI alone. Therapeutic targeting of the tumor is necessary to generate anti-tumor T cells and/or reduce these barriers.   Radiation therapy and some cytotoxic drugs have shown the ability to kill cancer cells while activating innate immune signaling, in some cases fostering the priming of tumor-specific T cells with enhanced responses to ICI.  In this session, progress in identifying combinatorial therapies that work with ICI in tumor types that are largely resistant to immunotherapy will be discussed. In addition, new combinatorial strategies, such as the use of exosomes or small extracellular vesicles will be presented.

Session 118: Microbiome, Diet, and Cancer Immunotherapy

Thomas F. Gajewski, MD, PhD – University of Chicago
Jennifer L. McQuade, MD –
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Multiple lines of evidence support that the gut microbiome plays a key role in response to immunotherapy.  Mechanisms underlying the microbiome-immune interaction and strategies to modulate the microbiome to enhance response to immunotherapy are areas of active investigation. In this session, we will discuss the current understanding of how the gut microbiome impacts mucosal, systemic, and anti-tumor immunity. In addition, host determinants of the microbiome will be presented as will ongoing and completed human interventional studies of microbiome modulation including diet, probiotics, and fecal microbiota transplant. 


Session 119: Vaccines: in Situ Agents and Novel Systemic Approaches


Ann W. Silk, MD, MS – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dmitry Zamarin, MD, PhD – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Lack of effective immune priming remains a key challenge for immunotherapy efficacy. Cancer vaccines make up a broad class of agents that encompasses vaccines that target shared tumor antigens, private tumor antigens, and even immunosuppressive molecules--a strategy that has recently demonstrated proof-of-concept in humans.  Likewise, intralesional therapies exploit the antigen repertoire within the in situ tumor by stimulating the locoregional immune cells. Cancer vaccines have been explored as potential strategies to induce effective immune priming and to potentiate the efficacy of other immune therapeutics such as immune checkpoint inhibitors. In this session, we will discuss the scientific rationale behind cancer vaccines including in situ therapeutics, discuss the challenges that have faced cancer vaccines to date, and review the latest emerging pre-clinical and clinical data that will guide further development in this field.

Session 120: Tertiary Lymphoid Structures

Haydn Kissick, PhD – Emory University

Catherine Sautes-Fridman, PhD – Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers

Tertiary Lymphoid Structures (TLSs) are organized lymphoid aggregates developing in inflamed tissues upon infection, auto-immune reactions and in tumors. TLSs are now placed at the forefront of immunotherapies, as potential biomarkers of response to antibodies against immune check-points and as tools to be used in combination therapies to promote lymphocytic infiltration, activation by tumor antigens and differentiation. In this session we will discuss TLS structural and functional heterogeneity, relationships between TLSs and intratumoral “immune niches “, and mechanisms that regulate TLS development.

Session 121: Clinical Development of Novel Checkpoint Inhibitors


Hussein A. Tawbi, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Hassane M. Zarour, MD – UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), notably anti-CTLA-4) and anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies has revolutionized treatment for solid tumors. However, primary or acquired resistance as well as the occurrence of serious immune-related adverse events represent significant challenges in clinical practice.  Beyond PD-1 and dual PD-1/CTLA-4 blockades, multiple preclinical and early phase clinical studies, and recently phase 3 registration studies have supported the clinical efficacy of ICIs targeting novel IR pathways, alone or in combination, in cancer patients. In this session we will present an update on the clinical development of novel ICIs, including clinical outcome and safety/tolerability. We will also discuss insights into mechanisms of action and potential biomarkers of clinical outcome. In addition, the speakers will discuss gaps in knowledge, and provide an outlook on future development opportunities.

Session 203: Immunotherapy in Early Stage Disease 

Matthew D. Galsky, MD – Tisch Cancer Institute At Mount Sinai Medical Center (GU)
Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, MD, PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Brigham & Women's Cancer Institute

The standard anticancer drug development paradigm typically involves testing therapies initially in patients with advanced cancer before moving therapies to earlier clinical disease states. Such has been the case for immune checkpoint blockade with the majority of regulatory approvals to date occurring in the advanced/metastatic setting. However, there are a number of scientific and clinical reasons why studying immune checkpoint blockade, and other novel immunotherapies, in the early disease setting may be even more compelling. Engaging the patient’s immune system to help eradicate minimal microscopic metastatic disease, before or after local therapies administered with curative intent, may have an even larger impact on cancer control. Further, application of immunotherapies prior to surgical removal of primary tumors offers the opportunity to probe the mechanistic underpinnings of response and resistance to treatment. The use of immunotherapies in early disease states, however, is not without challenges and includes unique considerations related to trial design, endpoints, and risk:benefit balance. In this session, we will hear about recent advances in the application of immunotherapies for the treatment of early stage cancer, how neoadjuvant clinical trial platforms are being used to advance treatment science, and how novel designs and endpoints are being employed to accelerate drug development.

Session 207: A Look at JITC's High-Impact Science


James L. Gulley, MD, PhD, FACP – National Cancer Institute
Pedro J. Romero, MD – Lausanne Branch, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

This session features presentations from authors of JITC's 2022 Best Paper Awards along with discussion and Q&A led by Editorial Board leadership. Leaders will also provide a brief review of common journal and article metrics, giving attendees a greater understanding of how to read and critically evaluate metrics. 

Session 210: Cancer Surgery in the Age of Immunotherapy


Genevieve M. Boland, MD, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital
Myron E. Schwartz, MD – Mount Sinai School of Medicine

The role of surgery in patients with cancer is expanding with introduction of checkpoint inhibitors (CPI’s). New indications for surgery combined with systemic therapy are evolving both in patients with advanced disease where systemic therapy alone has been standard of care, and in early disease where surgery alone has been routine. In this session we will explore with Dr Michael Rowe from Emory the expanding role of surgery in the treatment of patients with stage IV metastatic disease. Dr John Sfakianos from Mount Sinai will then review how applying CPI’s in patients with early-stage cancer in the neoadjuvant setting can increase response rates and through deep analysis of pre- and post-treatment patient specimens, provide unique insights into mechanisms of response and resistance. Dr Ashley Holder from U Alabama will round out the session with a discussion of the challenges and solutions associated with acquiring patient biopsies and surgical specimens, and maximizing the information that can be obtained from this precious and scarce resource.  

Session 211: Extended Analysis of the Tumor Microenvironment: Beyond Tumor and Immune Cells

Peter S. Nelson, MD – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Janis M. Taube, MD, MSc – Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

The tumor microenvironment (TME) is a rich ecosystem composed of a wide variety of cell types and secreted factors. To date, most of the focus involving the TME has centered on characterizing immune cells and their bidirectional interactions with tumor cells. The purpose of this session is to address other emerging important cell types, including the role of stromal cells and senescent cells in tumor progression and therapeutic responses. The development of spatial imaging technologies aiding in the extended characterization of numerous factors within the TME will also be discussed.

Session 212: Next Generation Checkpoint Blockade: Mechanisms of Action

Ana Carrizosa Anderson, PhD – Harvard Medical School
Ira Mellman, PhD –Genentech

Checkpoints beyond CTLA-4 and PD-1 continue to be investigated in clinical trials. This session will highlight the latest research on elucidating the mechanisms responsible for the T cell inhibitory functions of these next generation immune checkpoints with a focus on Tim-3 and Tigit. This session will also highlight emerging research on the discovery of a checkpoint that is unique to B cells and how it may determine the immune promoting versus inhibitory role of B cells in cancer.

Session 213: Next-Generation Cytokine Therapy


Kim A. Margolin, MD – St. John’s Cancer Institute
Aaron M. Ring, MD, PhD – Yale University School of Medicine

This session on engineered cytokines will feature faculty experts on 3 topics: the innate/adaptive cytokine IL-18, novel therapeutic strategies with the common gamma chain cytokines IL-2 and IL-15, and new insights on the effects of various cytokines on cells of the immune system.  We will also have one proffered abstract that fits the theme of these three subtopics.

Session 216: Convergence Towards Enhanced Immunotherapy


James L. Gulley, MD, PhD, FACP – National Cancer Institute
Phillip A. Sharp, PhD – Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT

This session is co-organized session by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). SU2C Convergence seeks to accelerate cancer research and treatment for patients by bringing together quantitative scientists, including physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers, along with biological researchers and clinical oncologists, in order to investigate fundamental questions about cancer biology that can be rapidly applied to combination therapies. During this session, SU2C Convergence teams with research in immuno-oncology will be featured.

Session 301: Resistance to Checkpoint Blockade Immunotherapy


Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Alexandra Snyder, MD – Two River

Although checkpoint blockade immunotherapies have become standard of care treatment across malignancies, novel therapies that successfully address mechanisms of resistance remain sorely needed.  An increasing number of preclinical and translational studies are being performed to deeply characterize resistance mechanisms at the tumor site, including the roles of tumor-infiltrating immune cells, angiogenesis, hypoxia and other factors. Dr. Spranger and Dr. Politi will delve into the most recent biological data to define the current status of the field, gaps and implications for therapy. Dr. Snyder will discuss an analysis across tumor types to demonstrate how in-depth understanding of tumor behavior at the time of resistance can inform the translational approach to studying resistance biology.

Session 302: Thomas Waldmann Memorial Plenary Session: New Immunotherapies


Andrea Schietinger, PhD – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Ryan J. Sullivan, MD –Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital

The past decade has been a golden age of development and approvals of novel immunotherapies, including immune checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-1/PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies, as well as for cellular therapies such as CAR-T cells.  Earlier this year, the anti-LAG-3 was approved as part of a fixed-dose combination with anti-PD-1 (nivolumab) for the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma.  In addition, a number of novel targets and delivery mechanisms have been developed and are making their way into the clinic. In this session, the preclinical and clinical data of LAG-3 targeting will be presented to highlight the recent achievement of an effective and approved new checkpoint inhibitor and to understand other settings where LAG-3 antagonism may be useful.  Then, a presentation summarizing the new developments on how macrophages may be targeted or augmented to improve outcomes through bioengineering and nanoparticle delivery.  The session will also include two abstracts highlighting new immunotherapeutics that show promising preclinical and/or clinical activity.