Immune Monitor - March 2021

A Message from the President

Dear Colleagues,

I’m beginning this month’s President’s Message on a somber note. As many of you likely saw, our field recently lost a pair of luminaries in Giorgio Parmiani, MD, and José Baselga, MD. Dr. Parmiani, a 2008 recipient of SITC’s Smalley Award, served our society and worked with fellow members for decades, a few of whom shared thoughts in remembrance of Giorgio, which you can view here. Dr. Baselga, a targeted therapist whose chief area of research focused on breast cancer, served at a variety of academic medical institutions and companies over the years, most recently at AstraZeneca LP. Their contributions to science were vast and neither will be soon forgotten. Our thoughts are with their families and friends.

The passing of the noted Italian and Spanish researchers is a reminder that our connection within this scientific community is not limited by geographic boundaries. In fact, SITC members now represent more than 60 countries around the world, a number than has grown significantly in recent years. Inherently, and quite thankfully, this fact means that the SITC family features an increasingly diverse community of basic scientists, translational researchers and clinicians. Our society’s ability to seamlessly and graciously welcome new professionals from this global scientific community underscore the role we can play in breaking down walls to cultivate new relationships and create opportunities for scientists from all societal and cultural backgrounds.

Sadly, these concepts continue to be incredibly relevant in some very unfortunate respects. I am heartbroken by the recent acts of violence that have occurred against Asian Americans in the United States. My thoughts go out to all of those individuals, and their families, who have been hurt and/or affected by the actions of the hateful and uncaring.

As witnessed last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests, our country continues to reckon with the way it addresses racial inequities. As a young Asian boy growing up in West Virginia, it wasn’t always easy to see a future for myself in a true leadership position; CEOs and Presidents did not look like me. For decades, Asians have often been overlooked, particularly when considered for roles beyond the front lines of science and medicine. Even casual or professional conversations can feature micro aggressions or unconscious bias, which are damaging and ultimately limit or outright deter future professional growth.

To achieve change, a community must raise their voices to have difficult issues acknowledged and addressed. From my experience, I see that it’s often too easy to sweep discrimination under the rug. It is why I was proud that on June 3, 2020, SITC published a statement in support of justice and equality. Simple as that may have seemed, it clearly communicates the society’s values and support for all individuals to achieve their full potential.

Now, as our society’s first President of Asian descent, I will work with our members to shed light on existing inequities and find ways to address them that lead to tangible benefits for all. This year, SITC established a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Co-chaired by SITC Vice President Leisha Emens, MD, PhD, and SITC Board Member Adekunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, this task force will focus on improving opportunities for research, education and professional development that promote diversity, equity and inclusion in SITC and the greater cancer immunotherapy field.

SITC has a range of activities dedicated to early career scientists seeking to connect these young investigators at an early stage of their training to make new connections in the field and build their status within cancer immunotherapy research. Further, SITC is proud to offer a 2021 SITC Fellowship, made possible by an educational grant from Nektar Therapeutics, that focuses on equity and inclusion in cancer immunotherapy (applications are due by April 2 at 11:59 p.m. EDT, by the way).

These are just a few ways in which SITC is working to address racial disparities in our field. I look forward to connecting with more of our members in the future to hear how we’re doing, and I’m also eager to continue the conversation in this space in the coming months, so be sure to follow along.

Sincerely,

Patrick Hwu, MD

SITC President

Nominations open for: Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award and Lectureship,
SITC Lifetime Achievement Award and more

SITC Fellowships: Applications Due April 2

SITC is dedicated to assisting investigators in advancing the science of immunotherapy and developing new therapeutic approaches. To further this goal, we are offering four SITC Fellowships, totaling $450,000 in funding. Applications are due by April 2 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Click here to submit an application.

2021–2023 SITC-Bristol Myers Squibb Postdoctoral Cancer Immunotherapy Translational Fellowship

Term: Two years
Amount: $200,000
Learn More

2021 SITC-Amgen Cancer Immunotherapy in Hematologic Malignancies Fellowship

Term: One year
Amount: $100,000
Learn More

2021 SITC-AstraZeneca Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer Clinical Fellowship

Term: One year
Amount: $100,000
Learn More 

2021 SITC-Nektar Therapeutics Equity and Inclusion in Cancer Immunotherapy Fellowship

Term: One year
Amount: $50,000
Learn More

We encourage you to share these significant funding opportunities with early career scientists in your network to help advance clinical and translational cancer immunotherapy research.

Interested applicants, domestic and international across academia and government, may apply for more than one award. Fellowship recipients will receive complimentary registration and travel to the society’s 36th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2021) in November and will be recognized during the SITC 2021 Award Ceremony. Recipients will be announced in summer 2021.

SITC established the Forward Fund to support the development of the next generation of cancer immunotherapy investigators and leaders.

JITC Special Review Series: COVID-19 and Cancer Immunotherapy

Comprised of several authoritative reviews of COVID-19 and Cancer Immunotherapy, this series, edited by Paolo Antonio Ascierto, MD, and Jason D. Goldman, MD, MPH, will explore basic insights into the immunology of the novel coronavirus, repurposing of immune-based therapies including the effects of immune-oncology agents, and the affected cancer populations.

Explore the series and check back regularly as reviews publish throughout 2021.


Save the Date for SITC Fall Programs

Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting Workshop

Sept. 29–30, 2021 · San Diego · Registration Opening Soon

This SITC workshop will focus on the tumor cell surfaceome and the many opportunities that accompany it for the development of future immunotherapies and maximization of existing techniques. By bringing together experts on the topic from a variety of fields including medical oncology, bioinformatics, cancer biology, genetics/epigenetics, immunology, and many others, the workshop will facilitate increased discussion in this important area.

Program Organizers

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

Abstracts submission will be accepted for the Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting Workshop starting April 21, 2021. 

Bispecific T cell Engagers Workshops

Sept. 30–Oct. 1, 2021 · San Diego

This SITC workshop will focus on T cell engager biology and therapeutic strategies including target selection, therapeutic engineering and design features, cytotoxicity vs cytokine release, impact of the tumor microenvironment, and advances in conditionally-active binding. Additionally, considerations related to dosing, schedule, sequencing and combination approaches for optimizing both endogenous and synthetic immunity will be discussed. 

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

It is anticipated that the efforts of these SITC workshops will fuel innovative collaborations, disseminate important knowledge to the rest of the immunotherapy field, and help assure the continued growth of immunotherapy treatments as a whole.

Cytokines in Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop

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

The Cytokines in Cancer Immunotherapy Workshop will consist of scientific sessions and expert-led discussion on pressing topics in the field of cytokines in immunology and cancer immunotherapy. This workshop will encourage further investigation into the use of cytokines as solo therapeutic agents as well as in combination with cancer treatments by bringing together established experts and drawing talented new scientists and clinicians into the area of cytokines and immune cell differentiation and function.

Program Organizers

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

It is anticipated that the efforts of these SITC workshops will fuel innovative collaborations, disseminate important knowledge to the rest of the immunotherapy field, and help assure the continued growth of immunotherapy treatments as a whole.

SITC's Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network (WIN) Leadership Institute Returns this Summer!

The society's WIN Leadership Institute is a virtual program, FREE to accepted applicants, which seeks to promote and elevate women in the cancer immunotherapy field through meaningful professional development and networking opportunities with female leaders in the field. There are two opportunities to attend the WIN Leadership Institute this year, July 12–13 or Aug. 2–3. Each program will feature presentations from experienced female leaders, panel discussions allowing participants to ask questions and interact with these leaders and our distinguished program organizers, and informal networking opportunities.

This program will explore topics specifically designed for women as emerging leaders in the cancer immunotherapy field, including:

  • Learning to break through the glass ceiling
  • Exploring negotiation techniques
  • Mastering the art of saying no
  • Surviving in a political world
  • Developing leadership skills, including conflict resolution strategies and public speaking

Apply for the opportunity to attend by March 30 at 11:59 p.m. EST at sitcancer.org/win.