A Message from the President
Earlier this month, hundreds of participants gathered online for the SITC Immunoprevention Virtual Summit. The goals of the summit were to highlight opportunities and challenges in developing strategies for cancer immune interception and immunoprevention, to provide an overview of resources currently available to support these research areas, and to advocate for the need for additional innovative preventative research methods. The summit also called out the critical importance of attracting talented biologists, translational researchers, clinicians, and epidemiologists to this field, which will both diversify the workforce and promote cross-fertilization from other research areas. Expanding available, state-of-the-art tools and growing the workforce should accelerate cancer immunoprevention progress in a tangible way.
This program highlighted the importance of both dissecting pre-cancer biology to identify novel targets for immune interception and prevention, and understanding the dynamic interplay between developing tumors and the immune system. It was noted that immunosuppression occurs quite early and well before overt cancer develops, and that getting ahead of this process may be challenging. The role of host factors (such as age) and environmental exposures (smoking, for example) in modulating an effective immune response was also highlighted. Understanding how these endogenous and exogenous variables modulate our ability to generate an effective immune response may provide additional insights into developing novel immunoprevention approaches.
The program provided a broad overview and will serve as a catalyst to move progress forward in immunoprevention. A big thank you to the organizers of the summit: Dr. Philip Castle of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Mark Cobbold of AstraZeneca, Dr. Olivera Finn of the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, John Hopkins University, Dr. Shizuko Sei of the National Cancer Institute and my co-chair, Dr. Sasha Stanton of Providence Cancer Institute, Earle A. Chiles Cancer Research Institute. Many thanks also to the distinguished faculty, all recognized leaders in the field, who donated their valuable time and expertise.
SITC will be publishing an executive summary about the program in the near future, and I encourage you to visit the summit’s webpage for more information. We look forward to the immunoprevention session that will take place on Nov. 3 at the 38th Annual Meeting.
A few other exciting events are happening at SITC. The 38th Annual Meeting is taking flight – the call for Regular and Young Investigator Award Abstracts is now open! Registration for the meeting opens on Wednesday, April 26 and Wednesday, May 10 for SITC members and non-members, respectively.
We are coming up on election season for the society. This year, we are electing a Secretary/Treasurer and three At-Large Directors. Voting opens on Tuesday, May 2 for regular members. Get to know the incredible slate of candidates here.
As always, I am honored to be part of such an impressive society where, every day, we set our minds and hearts to effectively engage the immune system to treat and prevent cancer, with the ultimate goal of creating a cancer-free world for everyone.
Leisha Emens, MD, PhD