Jason J. Luke, MD, FACP • 2022 SITC Election

Jason J. Luke, MD, FACP
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Jason LukeBiography

Jason J. Luke, MD, FACP
I specialize in early phase drug development as well as cutaneous oncology (melanoma). I have been a lead investigator on clinical trials of immunotherapies including but not limited to anti-PD1/L1, CTLA4, many secondary checkpoints, bispecific approaches (checkpoint, CD3 and cytokine), metabolism modifiers (IDO, A2Ar/CD73/CD39 and arginase), innate agonists of STING, TLRs, NLRP3 and oncolytic virus as well as solid tumor cellular therapies (TCRs and CART). I have been a major contributor toward the investigation of radiation and the microbiome in relation to cancer immunotherapy. My translational research efforts focus on using large scale informatics to advance cancer immunotherapy. I am actively involved in several societies including SMR, SITC, AACR & ASCO. I have received several awards for research & clinical care including the NCI Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award, Melanoma Research Foundation Humanitarian Award, Crain's 40 under 40, DOD Career Development Award, Paul Calabresi Career Development in Clinical Oncology Award (K12), ASCO Merit Award as well as Young Investigator Awards from the MRA, Cancer Research Foundation and Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO.

SITC Election Platform Statement

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

Two critical issues that face our field are increasing the number of patients who can benefit from cancer immunotherapy as well as broadening the diversity of scientific perspectives contributing to the identification of novel therapeutic approaches. Most cancer patients currently derive little to no benefit from immunotherapy however there is great opportunity to improve this through mechanism-based combination strategies. Within therapy resistance, I see the immediate priority areas as finding approaches to overcome non-T cell-inflamed tumors as well as expanding the biology of cellular therapies to facilitate persistence and improve effector function. This raises then several roles for SITC to lead the field, such as promoting the funding of basic and translational science, bringing together immunotherapy thought leaders to brainstorm solutions together as well as enhancing collaboration between industry actors who can facilitate combination clinical trials. A second critical area for our field is to continue to expand the breadth of scientific excellence being applied to cancer immunotherapy.

This includes bringing in new perspectives from other topical areas. We have seen unparalleled success with checkpoint blockade, mostly in solid tumors, and CART, in hematologic cancer, however we risk a plateau on further success unless we prioritize new approaches and innovative research. For example, bioengineering applications to enhance drug delivery or modify current treatment approaches might increase the potential benefit of existing treatments. In contrast, systems biology, artificial intelligence, and deep learning have the potential to nominate new avenues of research in immunotherapy that can be pre-clinically validated and brought rapidly in the therapeutic arena. As a Society then, a priority must be to reach out to scientists from other disciplines to build collaborations on all levels between societies, individual research labs and eventually clinical trials for patients.

What is your vision for SITC?

The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer is the premier organization advancing all aspects of immunology in oncology. My vision is to maintain this leadership position and to grow our footprint across basic, translational, and clinical research. While collaboratively interacting with other cancer research organizations remains a priority, SITC should continue to grow, organize, and lead across all domains of science that can be potentially be relevant to the immuno-biology of cancer. We will work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders with overlapping interests but engage and draw in new areas of scientific and clinical expertise. These will include but not be limited to bioengineering, bioinformatics, and systems biology as well as physics and physical chemistry. In the realm of basic and translational research, I believe that SITC should take a large role in advocating at NIH and NCI toward the priorities we have identified as the major unmet needs in our field. In the clinical domain, a major area of growth will be toward definition and guidance of immunotherapy related clinical quandaries and clinical research approaches. The SITC definition of PD1/L1 resistance is an exemplary example of the impact our society can have on management of patients and drug development more broadly. Our expertise should be appropriately applied toward other relevant situations. Examples could include surrogate endpoints for immunotherapy clinical trials, best practices for the use of intra-tumoral or cellular immunotherapies and most especially toward emerging immunotherapy combinations with other cancer treatment modalities. Beyond research, I believe that it is essential that SITC continue to foster an atmosphere of comradery and opportunity for growth for early career scientists.

Through SITC, I have been tremendously fortunate in my career growth to interact with many of the premier scientists in the world. It has been my honor to give back to the society as an Associate Editor of JITC, Ex-Officio member of the SITC Board of Directors, Chair of multiple committees (Policy, Regulatory), Member of other committees (toxicity management working group, cancer immune responsiveness task force, and others), Speaker at multiple SITC advances in Cancer Immunotherapy meetings as well as cross-over events between SITC and ASCO, ESMO, ACCC and Deep Dive programs. It is my priority to seek out and facilitate similar opportunities for the next generation of cancer immunotherapy researchers. In summary, SITC is the highest impact immuno-oncology research organization in the world, and I believe that our role should only grow as we draw in the best and brightest minds to cure more patients with cancer immunotherapy.