Stefani Spranger, PhD • 2019 SITC Election


Stefani Spranger, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. She is also an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and holds the Howard S. and Linda B. Stern Career Development Professorship. Dr. Spranger studied biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich-Germany, from which she received her master of science degree in 2008. Dr. Spranger went on to do a PhD with Prof. Dolores Schendel at the Helmholz Center and the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, from which she graduated with summa cum laude in 2011. Following her PhD work, Dr. Spranger obtained her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago Ben May Cancer Center, where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Gajewski making ground-breaking discoveries surrounding T cell-inflamed/ non-T cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment paradigm. Her postdoctoral work was supported by fellowships from the German Research Council (DFG), the Cancer Research Institute, and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award by the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Spranger works in the field of tumor immunology and immunotherapy. More specifically, Dr. Spranger’s laboratory focuses on elucidating the mechanisms that help us better understand the interplay between tumor cells, dendritic cells and T cell responses. Her work has contributed substantially to our current understanding of the T cell-inflamed and non-T cell inflamed tumor microenvironment as well as the way we now think tumor cell-intrinsic signaling affects anti-tumor immunity. More recent work from the Dr. Spranger’s laboratory has been focusing on elucidating the contribution of tumor-resident dendritic cells to an anti-tumor immune response. Prior to working in the field of the tumor microenvironment, Dr. Spranger worked in the field of adoptive T cell transfer and dendritic cell based vaccines. Dr. Spranger has published 20 peer-reviewed primary research articles cited over 4500 times, 14 review articles and three book chapters. Furthermore, Dr. Spranger’s work on T cell exclusion mediated by tumor cell-intrinsic beta-catenin signaling (Nature 2015) has been rated exceptional by the Faculty of 1000. Dr. Spranger served as chair of the early career scientist committee, she is currently co-chair of the Education and Training Committee and is the co-organizer for the 2019 Annual SITC Meeting. Dr. Spranger currently serves on the scientific advisory boards of Tango Therapeutics, Venn Therapeutics and Replimune, and is a scientific advisor for Dragonfly, Merck, Ribon, Takeda and Torque Therapeutics.

SITC Election Platform Statement

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

Increasing the number of patients that benefit from immunotherapeutic interventions is certainly the ultimate goal. To achieve this goal, the field will need 1) to obtain a mechanistic understanding of the tumor-immune interaction within the tumor microenvironment; 2) to understand at the mechanistic level, how current and future immunotherapies work; and 3) by using reliable biomarkers, to identify rational ways to combine immunotherapeutic agents in a synergistic fashion for the suited patient cohort.

What is your vision for SITC?

SITC in my eyes is the organization that brings together immunologists, cancer biologists, oncologists, nurses and patients. By doing so, SITC provides a unique platform for the well-needed exchange between diverse sets of researchers to advance the field of immune-oncology. I am very fond of SITC’s commitment to support scientists in their early career stages as well as SITC’s efforts to push the boundaries in education. My vision is to strengthen SITC’s efforts on providing a forum for interdisciplinary exchange. Further, I would route for the implementation of additional funding mechanisms for scientists working in the fields of basic immunology research, focusing particularly on postdoctoral fellowships and pilot-type grants, which will provide funding for high-risk high-reward projects, specifically for young investigators.