Ann Silk, MD, MS • 2020 SITC Election

Ann Silk, MD, MS
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Dr. Silk is a medical oncologist specializing in cutaneous oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She conducts clinical trials using microbial-based cancer therapies, cytokines, and immune checkpoint inhibitors, and is particularly interested in the intratumoral delivery of therapeutics and the treatment of brain metastases. Dr. Silk has been a member of SITC since 2013 and was a member of the Planning Committee for the inaugural ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium. She currently serves on the Communications Committee, the Certificate Program, and is the co-chair of the Cancer Immunotherapy Guideline development committee for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. She is an Associate Editor of the Oncolytic and Local Immunotherapy section of JITC and a co-leader of the Cytokine Working Group. Dr. Silk received her medical degree and master’s degree in Clinical Research from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Michigan in 2014. She joined the faculty at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2019, where she is the Co-Director of the Merkel Cell Carcinoma Center of Excellence.

SITC Election Platform Statement

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

The perennial issue for the field of cancer immunotherapy is to find a cure for cancer. Immunotherapy has key advantages, namely specificity, memory and adaptability, and I believe that in the future, all targeted therapy and chemotherapy eventually will be relegated to adjunctive roles in support of immunotherapy. To that end, biomarkers and rational combination strategies will be more important than ever, and it is exciting to see so many novel technologies and targets. The new issue for our field is the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a tremendous impact on our patients and for some of us, the trajectory of our line of investigation. We all recognize that COVID-19 can become a severe inflammatory disease that we are struggling to understand. It is possible that what we will learn by studying the complications of coronavirus will also help us improve immune immunomodulatory drugs for cancer. Our field is home to some of the world's most skilled immunotherapists and scientists specializing in inflammation. Therefore, the society must balance our priorities by carving out space for responding to COVID-19 without compromising our broader mission.

What is your vision for SITC?

The society is and will continue to be a one-stop shopping place where people go to see what’s next in immunotherapy, to network, to review the current standard of care, and to find educational resources. SITC will continue to facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations that spark the development of novel agents, combinations, and biomarkers and to educate clinicians on how to use new technologies and manage their side effects. SITC will continue to be an international leader in advocating for our scientific goals.