The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) congratulates long-time SITC member James P. Allison, PhD, for the incredible honor of receiving the Nobel Prize in the category of physiology or medicine.
Dr. Allison, Chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and a SITC member since 2001, along with Prof. Honjo, Professor at the Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University in Japan, were awarded the Nobel Prize, “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation,” the prize’s committee announced on Monday. Dr. Allison and Prof. Honjo are both past recipients of the SITC Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Award and Lectureship, in 2010 and 2015, respectively. The SITC Smalley Award is the society’s highest honor recognizing a clinician/scientist who has contributed significantly to the advancement of cancer immunotherapy research.
Dr. Allison and Prof. Honjo helped pioneer the emerging field of immune checkpoint blockade therapy, which has become a foundational component of cancer treatment across the globe.
Research efforts lead by Dr. Allison helped define the role of CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4) in immune system inhibition, and discovered that treatment of mice with an anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody increased immune system elimination of cancer cells. These data ultimately contributed to the development of anti-CTLA-4 ipilimumab, which in 2011 became the first immune checkpoint inhibitor to gain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat cancer patients.
Previously, Dr. Allison served on the SITC Board of Directors from 2000-2001, co-chaired the SITC 2009 Annual Meeting, and has served as faculty, speaker and organizer of numerous other SITC meetings through the years.
“Dr. Allison’s contributions towards the discovery and clinical development of immune checkpoint inhibitors have had an incalculable impact on cancer immunotherapy research and clinical translation,” said SITC President Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD. “Immunotherapy approaches to treat cancer may have existed for more than 100 years, but it was Dr. Allison’s breakthroughs in the lab which shed new light on these regulatory circuits that then enabled the revolution we now have in the field for patients. I am delighted to celebrate Dr. Allison’s newfound status as a Nobel Laureate.”