James P. Allison, PhD, Nobel Laureate

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.

James P. Allison, PhDDr. 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.”

View the Nobel Presentation

Dr. Allison and Prof. Honjo delivered their Nobel laureate lectures "Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Therapy: New insights, opportunities, and prospects for cures" and "Serendipities of acquired immunity," respectively, in Solna, Sweden on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. View their lectures below.

Significant Contributions to the Field of Immunotherapy

The following are manuscripts published as a result of work completed in Dr. Allison's laboratory leading to significant advances in the field of cancer immunotherapy:

  1. Krummel MF, Allison JP. CD28 and CTLA-4 have opposing effects on the response of T cells to stimulation. J Exp Med 182(2):459-65, 1995. PMID: 7543139.
  2. Leach DR, Krummel MF, Allison JP. Enhancement of antitumor immunity by CTLA-4 blockade. Science 271(5256):1734-6, 1996. PMID: 8596936.
  3. van Elsas A, Hurwitz AA, Allison JP. Combination immunotherapy of B16 melanoma using anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-producing vaccines induces rejection of subcutaneous and metastatic tumors accompanied by autoimmune depigmentation. J Exp Med 190(3):355-66, 1999. PMID: 10430624.
  4. Curran MA, Montalvo W, Yagita H, Allison JP. PD-1 and CTLA-4 combination blockade expands infiltrating T cells and reduces regulatory T and myeloid cells within B16 melanoma tumors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107(9):4275-80, 2010. e-Pub 2010. PMID: 20160101.

Dr. Allison Resources on SITC CONNECT

Dr. Allison has presented numerous times at SITC meetings during his near-20-year tenure as a SITC member. Below are links to past presentations available in the SITC Resource Library:

SITC 2015: Targeting Immune Checkpoints in Cancer Therapy: New Insights, Opportunities and Prospects for Cures

Dr_Allison_SITC_2015.jpgSITC 30th Annual Meeting
Date: Nov. 6, 2015
Session: Milestones in Immunotherapy

SITC's 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting provided a multidisciplinary educational and interactive environment focused on improving the outcome for current and future patients with cancer by incorporating strategies based on basic and applied cancer immunotherapy. The meeting consisted of cutting-edge research presentations by experts in the field, both oral and poster abstract presentations and ample opportunity for structured and informal discussions, including important networking opportunities. In addition, the meeting included updates on major national and international initiatives coming from academia, government and industry, as well as important Society projects.

Click here to view slides and video of his presentation.

SITC 2014: Targeting Immune Checkpoints in Cancer Therapy: New Insights, Opportunities and Prospects for a Cure

SITC_2014_Allison.pngSITC 29th Annual Meeting
Date: Nov. 6, 2014
Session: Primer on Tumor Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy™

The SITC 29th Annual Meeting provided a multidisciplinary educational and interactive environment focused on improving outcomes for current and future patients with cancer by incorporating strategies based on basic and applied cancer immunotherapy. The meeting consisted of cutting-edge research presentations by experts in the field, oral and poster abstract presentations, and ample opportunities for structured and informal discussions, including important networking opportunities. In addition, the meeting included updates on major national and international initiatives coming from academia, government and industry, as well as important society projects.

Click here to view slides and video of his presentation.

SITC 2010 Smalley Award Lecture: Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Therapy: New Insights and Opportunities

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SITC 25th Annual Meeting
Date: Oct. 2, 2010
Session: SITC Smalley Memorial Award and Lectureship

The SITC (formerly known as iSBTc) 25th Annual Meeting provided a multidisciplinary educational environment composed of cutting-edge research, oral presentations, poster presentations, and networking opportunities.

In 2010, Dr. Allison was awarded the SITC Smalley Award for his contributions to the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Click here to view slides from his presentation.

Dr. Allison and The CheckPoints

A harmonica player, Dr. Allison is also a member of The CheckPoints, SITC’s house band featuring other luminaries in cancer immunotherapy research. Dr. Allison and The CheckPoints perform several times a year in support of the SITC Forward Fund, which provides grants and other research opportunities for early career scientists in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

The CheckPoints will take the stage again on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 during SITC’s 33rd Annual Meeting.

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Dr. Allison plays the harmonica during the 32nd Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Md., on Nov. 9, 2017.