Hussein A. Tawbi, MD, PhD • 2021 SITC Election

Hussein A. Tawbi, MD, PhD
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Dr. Tawbi is Professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology, Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, Deputy Chair and Director of Clinical Research and Early Drug Development at the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is also a co-founder and Co-Director of the MD Anderson Brain Metastasis Clinic. Dr. Tawbi obtained his MD in 2001 from the American University of Beirut, and completed his training in Internal Medicine, Hematology/Oncology, and obtained his PhD in Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Tawbi has designed, and conducted many Phase I and II clinical trials in melanoma and sarcoma. Specifically, he participated in the early studies of targeted agents and immunotherapy agents for metastatic melanoma. In addition to pioneering the use of checkpoint inhibitors in sarcoma, he has been interested in the study of special populations including patients with autoimmune disorders (PI of AIM-Nivo/NCI#10204), and critically in patients with brain metastases. Dr. Tawbi has led the practice changing clinical trial of combination checkpoint inhibitors in patients with melanoma brain metastases (CheckMate-204). His translational research efforts have helped discover the role of B cells in the response to checkpoint inihibitor therapy in collaboration with Jen Wargo and Catherine and Wolff Fridman. Dr. Tawbi is nationally and interationally recognized as a leader in melanoma and immunotherapy drug development. He currently serves as Vice-Chair of the SWOG Melanoma Committee, Co-Chair of the STIC Immunotherapy Resistance Committee, and an active member of SITC, the Society for Melanoma Research, AACR, ESMO, and ASCO.

SITC Election Platform Statement

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

One of the critical issues facing cancer immunotherapy is resistance to immune checkpoint blockade and I believe that a better delineation of the clinical phenomenon of resistance into distinct clinical patterns will facilitate a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms and guide the development of rational combinations. Equally critical is increasing our investment into understanding the immunobiology of tumor-host interactions and the role of various immune cells (B cells, NK cells, macrophages, etc..) in the tumor microenvironment, which will undoubtedly generate novel therapeutic avenues. Finally, it is critical to evolve and deploy biomarker-driven patient selection strategies that could take advantage of the multitude of IO agents in development and maximize the benefit of cancer immunotherapy.

What is your vision for SITC?

My vision for SITC is to be the premier forum to bring together the best minds in tumor immunology in direct contact with clinical trialists, pharma, the NCI, and the FDA to accelerate the pace of translation and offer the promise of curative immunotherapy to every cancer patient.