Madhav Dhodapkar, MD • 2018 SITC Election


Dr. Madhav Dhodapkar is the director of Winship Center for Cancer Immunology, Anise McDaniel Brock chair, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cancer Innovation and professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Emory School of Medicine. Prior to moving to Emory in March 2018, Dr. Dhodapkar served as Chief of Hematology, the Arthur H. and Isabel Bunker Professor of Medicine (Hematology), and professor of immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine. An expert in cancer immunology, he was also the co-director of the cancer immunology program within the Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Dhodapkar is credited with helping to define the role of the immune system in controlling early cancer cells. His research focuses on how the immune system regulates the progression from precursor lesions to cancer as well as the mechanisms of treatment sensitivity and resistance to cancer immunotherapy.  

Dr. Dhodapkar earned his medical degree from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India. He completed his residency in internal medicine at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, and his fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Prior to Yale, Dhodapkar served on the faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Dhodapkar has authored more than 100 original scientific papers. He is a prior recipient of several awards including the National Institutes of Health Director’s Transformative Research Award and the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award in 2016. He has served SITC in several roles including as organizer of annual meeting (2015), and chair of the clinical immunotherapy guidelines (CIG) committee for hematologic malignancies (2016) and chair of the CIG oversight committee (present).

SITC Election Platform Statements

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

Improving clinical efficacy of immune therapies.
The past few years have been transformative in the field of cancer immunotherapy. However much more still remains to be done. The majority of cancer patients have not yet benefited from these therapies. Therefore, there is an unmet need to better understand the reasons why certain tumor types do or do not respond to existing therapies, and develop/test new approaches or combinations targeting resistant tumors. Improving clinical utility of immune therapies will also require newer approaches to understand and prevent toxicities associated with these therapies. The next set of advances will not only require discovery efforts utilizing biospecimens from cancer patients undergoing current therapies, but also deeper understanding of basic human immunology.

Harnessing immune system to prevent cancer.
While the great majority of attention for harnessing the immune system to combat cancer has focused on therapy of clinical cancer, the immune system holds an even greater promise in my view, for prevention of cancer. Realizing this potential will not only require deeper understanding of host immune response to precursor states in humans, but also dedicated clinical studies targeting patients at risk for developing cancer. 

What is your vision for SITC?

As the only U.S.-based organization dedicated specifically for immunotherapy of cancer, my vision for SITC as an organization is to be the foremost champion for cancer immunotherapy to all key stakeholders, including physicians, researchers, patients and industry. Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve SITC in several roles and have seen first-hand as to how SITC can impact and help its membership and stakeholders. This has included organizing the annual meeting, participating in the immunology primer, serving as the chair for clinical immunotherapy guidelines and oversight committees, and serving on biomarker task forces. With a membership that includes most key opinion leaders in the field, SITC should be the “go-to” organization that provides updated guidance to the practicing clinicians and patients in the rapidly changing field of cancer immunotherapy. SITC should also create partnerships with other organizations, to serve as the glue that brings researchers, funders/philanthropy and industry together and create teams to ask the big questions in cancer immunology. Most importantly, it should provide a home for the next generation of cancer immunologists, creating opportunities for mentoring, networking, participation in committees and platforms for career advancement. In a rapidly changing field of cancer immunotherapy, it is essential that SITC actively engage its stakeholders, and provide them greater opportunities for participation in SITC programs and help identify/address their unmet needs.


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