Dan Chen, MD, PhD • 2018 SITC Election


Daniel S. Chen, MD, PhD, is the chief medical officer at IGM Biosciences, Inc. He recently served as vice president, global head of cancer immunotherapy development at Genentech/Roche. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1990), a PhD in microbiology and immunology (1996) and an MD (1998) from the University of Southern California. Daniel completed an internal medicine residency and Medical Oncology Fellowship at Stanford University (2003). He went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Mark Davis in immunology, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate. He also ran the metastatic melanoma clinic at the Stanford Cancer Center from 2003–2006. In that time, he studied human anti-cancer immune responses pre-and post-cancer vaccination and cytokine administration to determine why anti-tumor immune responses were not more clinically effective. He received a U19 grant to develop better immunologic tools to interrogate human immune responses and ultimately patented the MHC cellular microarray to detect and functionally characterize antigen-specific T cell states. He continued as adjunct clinical faculty at Stanford from 2006–2016, where he cared for melanoma patients. Dr. Chen has focused on the clinical development of anti-angiogenic and immune modulatory targeted therapies in both early and late development, as well as the diagnostic tools to aid their development. He is a reviewer for nature, immunity and clinical cancer research, gave the keynote presentation at the AACR NCI EORTC Annual Meeting 2014 and presented at the U.S. Congressional Briefing on immuno oncology in 2017. He has continued to publish with academic and industry collaborators in the field of cancer immunotherapy, including the often referenced Chen and Mellman manuscripts, “Elements of cancer immunity and the cancer-immune set point” and “Oncology meets Immunology: the Cancer-Immunity Cycle.”

SITC Election Platform Statement

What are the two or three critical issues facing the field of cancer immunotherapy?

The field of cancer immunotherapy has emerged from being an interesting biologic concept and an alternative form of cancer therapy to become a transformative treatment modality. However, with today’s available cancer immunotherapy options, only a subset of cancer patients obtain life altering benefit from cancer immunotherapy. As scientists, investigators and supporters of cancer immunotherapy, we have now validated the underlying scientific hypothesis that the human immune system can act as a powerful therapeutic approach to eradicating cancer, and that it can give some of these patients the chance to live a normal life again.

It is now our inherent responsibility and objective to deliver this type of benefit to more- if not all- patients suffering from cancer.

To achieve this objective as a scientific and medical community, we will need to solve for three related issues. A) identify the biomarkers/biology that drive primary and secondary immune escape in individual patients and in subgroups B) rapidly deliver on optimal immune modulatory therapeutics that overcome immune escape while minimizing impact on  patient safety C) define approaches to combination cancer immunotherapy that leads to durable survival and cures.

These problems are not easily solved. However, it is in reach within our lifetime, our careers and maybe soon enough to save the life of cancer patients that are already fighting for their lives today. A coordinated, resourced and committed effort will help accelerate these solutions.

What is your vision for SITC?

I’ve always believed that SITC, as an organization, was the champion for the collaborative cancer immunotherapy effort. Individuals can make great discoveries that are at the heart of innovations and breakthroughs – but to stimulate something larger than individual accomplishments, organizations are necessary. Organizations that educate and equip individuals so that they can make their key discoveries. Organizations that connect investigators, so that they learn from each other, enabling them to do more than what they could do in isolation. Organizations that can help promote studies, act to change policy on behalf of the scientific community, and work directly with health authorities. And organizations that can aid in coordination and collaboration, allowing for discoveries that were not possible as individuals. SITC is and should be this organization for cancer immunotherapy.