Immune Monitor - July 2021

A Message from the President

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you know by now, diversity and inclusion is a very important topic to the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). I’ve shared some of my personal experiences and thoughts on the matter back in my March President’s Message, and then SITC followed this up in May by hosting a diversity panel discussion on barriers to Asians and Pacific Islanders in medicine and research. The panel discussion was guided by the SITC Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and I remain grateful to all of its participants for sharing their personal stories. To continue this momentum, I was eager and honored to share this month’s fireside chat with fellow SITC member, At-Large Director and Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, Adekunle "Kunle" Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG.
Dr. Odunsi is an expert in immunotherapy and vaccine therapy for cancer, with an emphasis on ovarian cancer. He became the director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center on March 1 after serving as deputy director at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y. He received his MD from the University of Ife in Nigeria, and his PhD from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in Oxford, United Kingdom. All of these experiences have helped shape his perspective and I greatly enjoyed our conversation on a range of topics.


Below, I’ve inserted a portion of our conversation for this month’s President’s Message, however, I hope you’ll have time to watch the full discussion on the SITC YouTube channel here

Myself: We certainly appreciate your contributions SITC, to co-lead our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, along with our Vice President Dr. Leisha Emens, so thanks so much for your help there. Tell us what you think the roadmap is for this country, and the world, to try to level the playing field in terms of outcomes to diseases like cancer, as well as COVID, where we really saw huge disparities. 

Dr. Odunsi: The roadmap has to include really stepping back and asking questions – how can we restore ability for all people, regardless of identify, background, to thrive in society? How can people realize their full capabilities in society? COVID, as you pointed out, really showed us that we have work to do. Of course we made a lot of progress. I’m very proud University of Chicago has made a lot of progress, but there’s work to be done. We have to get together as a community and really begin to advocate and support efforts to bridge the gap between the underserved populations and others, so that they have access to some of the socio-economic abilities that will allow them to gain access to adequate healthcare, education and so on and so forth. 

It’s really in the context of a bigger national issue, and I think we need to be deliberate, and really sit back and tackle, not just related to health, but it hinges on education, jobs, food security – all of those issues have to be on the table. 

Myself: There’s a really huge area that we can all participate in. What recommendations would you give to other SITC members and others in the field of tumor immunology, for what we can do to try and level the playing field, and start to make some of the changes we feel are necessary? 

Dr. Odunsi: One of the major recommendations has to be for us to pay attention to making sure we provide opportunities to underrepresented minorities in medicine, in health sciences, in research, so that we can create a pipeline – a continuous flow of individuals who will be qualified to take on some of the things you and I are doing right now. We need to essentially build a succession plan that is inclusive, that allows all people to have opportunity to be able to reach the full extent of their talent. Those types of programs have to start very early, from elementary to high school. What kind of opportunities are we putting together for high school students? What kind of opportunities are we putting together for undergrads to rotate in labs or in hospitals?

 All of these efforts in partnership with institutions that are devoted to minorities I think will be very helpful. There are institutions in this country where underrepresented minorities are the majority in those institutions, and I think engaging those institutions could be helpful to filling that pipeline. 

Again, to view the full fireside chat, please click here

Thank you once again to Dr. Odunsi for joining me this month. There is still much work ahead, but I’m grateful to have minds like Dr. Odunsi, among many others, helping to identify and execute ways that our society can positively affect our field to improve the overall representation and contribution from minorities.


Patrick Hwu, MD

SITC President

Register Today to Attend SITC 2021 in November

Registration is now open for the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) 36th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2021)! SITC 2021 takes place Nov. 10–14, 2021, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Click here to register.

For more information about attending SITC 2021 in person and virtually, visit the FAQ page.

SITC Wants Your Cutting-Edge Research

SITC is now accepting submissions of regular abstracts, late-breaking abstract applications, and Young Investigator Award abstracts through July 29, 2021. All accepted 36th Annual Meeting abstracts will be published as a supplement in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC), the society’s global, open access, peer-reviewed journal.

For the full list of important abstract dates, information on abstract categories, guidelines and procedures, FAQ, or to submit your abstract, please visit

Important Dates

SITC is also accepting abstracts through July 22 for two additional programs. See below for more information about the Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting Workshop and the Cytokines in Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop.

Exhibiting and Sponsorship

SITC offers a number of ways to promote your product or service. SITC 2021 will be presented as a hybrid meeting, which means we have innovative in-person and virtual solutions to meet your marketing and branding needs.

Contact or (414) 271-2456 for more information and to discuss customization options.

Sparkathon Accelerator: Emerging Leaders Igniting Innovation

SITC is pleased to announce the reinvigoration of the SITC Sparkathon Accelerator, the society’s innovative program designed to foster leadership development, collaborations and scientific exchange among early career investigators who are emerging leaders in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

This two-year program will kick off with an in-person retreat Nov. 9–10, 2021, prior to SITC 2021, in Washington, D.C. Sparkathon Class of 2021 participants will present their research on this year’s chosen topic of mechanisms of resistance to peers and luminaries in this area of the field. Participants will learn from each other and receive guidance from the experts in a synergistic and intimate environment.

In addition to addressing hurdles that mechanisms of resistance pose to the field, SITC’s Sparkathon Accelerator explores topics specifically designed for emerging leaders in the cancer immunotherapy field. Applications are due by July 26, 2021, at 8 p.m. EDT.

Apply to Attend New Clinical Trial Protocol Development Workshop

Apply to attend SITC’s new Clinical Immuno-Oncology Network (SCION) Workshop, taking place Jan. 23–28, 2022, in Austin, Texas, at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. Selected participants will develop a full cancer immunotherapy clinical trial protocol through small-group work with guidance from expert faculty during the five-day program.
Upon acceptance into the program, SCION Workshop applicants will be required to register for SITC's fourth annual Cancer Immunotherapy Winter School. Applications are due by Aug. 6, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

13.751 Impact Factor

The Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) increased its impact factor to 13.751 on June 30, 2021. JITC’s Impact Factor makes JITC the highest ranked fully open access immunology journal and places it in the top 5 percent of all journals published in the category of immunology and top 7 percent in the category of oncology.
Published in the annual Journal Citation Reports (JCR), the latest JITC impact factor is a calculation determined on the number of 2020 citations accumulated for JITC manuscripts published in 2018 and 2019. Other valuable journal metrics for JITC may be found on the journal website.

Register Now for SITC Fall Programs

Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting Workshop

Sept. 29–30, 2021 · San Diego · Register Now · Program Schedule                                                     

Program Organizers

  • Samir M. Hanash, MD, PhD  – The University of Texas MD Anderson
  • Avery D. Posey Jr., PhD – University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Abstracts are now being accepted for the Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting Workshop. Please submit your abstracts by 5 p.m. EDT on July 22, 2021.

Bispecific T cell Engagers Workshops

Sept. 30–Oct. 1, 2021 · San Diego · Register Now· Program Schedule

Program Organizers

  • Elizabeth Budde, MD, PhD – City of Hope
  • Daniel S. Chen, MD, PhD – IGM Biosciences, Inc.
  • James L. Gulley, MD, PhD, FACP – National Cancer Institute

Cytokines in Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop

Oct. 11–12, 2021 · New York · Register Now · Program Schedule

Program Organizers

  • Susan M. Kaech, PhD – Salk Institute
  • Anne O' Garra, PhD – The Francis Crick Institute
  • Aaron Ring, MD, PhD– Yale University

Abstracts are now being accepted for the Cytokines in Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop. Please submit your abstracts by 5 p.m. EDT on July 22, 2021.