Karin Jooss, PhD • 2020 SITC Election

Karin Jooss, PhD
Gritstone Oncology


Dr. Jooss serves as Chief Scientific Officer of Gritstone Oncology, a company focusing on the development of neoantigen-specific cancer vaccines as well as bispecific antibodies. Dr. Jooss joined Gritstone from Pfizer, where she served as Head of Cancer Immunotherapeutics within the Vaccine Immunotherapeutics department. While at Pfizer, she built and led immuno-oncology teams, was a member of the Vaccine Immunotherapeutics leadership team and served as the Head of Immunopharmacology. Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Jooss served as Vice President of Research at Cell Genesys, Inc. where she oversaw all research activities related to the company’s cancer vaccine and oncolytic virotherapy programs. Dr. Jooss received her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Marburg in Germany and performed postgraduate work in gene therapy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is on the editorial board of Molecular Therapy and Journal of Gene Medicine, is a member of the immunology and educational committee for the American Society of Gene Therapy, the Industry Task Force of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) as well as a member of the Board of Directors at Fate Therapeutics.

SITC Election Platform Statement

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

One of the challenges facing the cancer immunotherapy field include incorporating immunotherapy into early stage disease settings, such as adjuvant and neoadjuvant, where many immunotherapies are believed to be most effective. In addition, refining dose, schedule and duration of treatment is critical. Importantly, for all of the above outlined challenges, the development of novel surrogate endpoints that accurately capture overall survival benefit early in treatment, is urgently needed.

Another key challenge remains to enhance our understanding of mechanism(s) used by the tumor to escape immunotherapy. Improvement in our understanding of tumor immune escape mechanisms, will allow us to most effectively sequence immunotherapies, with the goal of providing long-term therapeutic benefit to patients with cancer.

What is your vision for SITC?

My vision for SITC is to maintain and grow its leading position as an organization dedicated to improving the outcomes for patients with cancer by continuing to facilitate strong interaction among industry, academia, regulators, patient groups, and all of the major stakeholder groups – to help the field advance, to see each other succeed and most importantly to see patients benefit. It is extremely important that SITC continues to attract and help develop young talent in order for the immunotherapy field to grow successfully. SITC is an exciting organization to be a part of, and by providing continued strong leadership in the field of immunotherapy, supporting innovation and its successful translation into clinic as well as fostering collaborations amongst key stakeholder, SITC has and will shape the future of immunotherapy to provide safe and potent therapies to patients with cancer.