Sarah Warren, PhD • 2022 SITC Election

Sarah Warren, PhD
Kite Pharma

Sarah WarrenBiography

Sarah Warren, PhD, held a leadership position at NanoString Technologies, where she focused on development and deployment of bulk and spatial profiling assays for biomarker discovery and diagnostic assay development. In this role, she collaborated with investigators from around the world in academia, biopharma, and non-profit sectors on basic research, translational, and clinical applications. She will soon be joining Kite Pharma to be the Senior Director of Research Technology and Business Development Planning, where she will be working to improve engineered cell therapies by connecting emerging technologies with the leading cell therapies platform. Prior to NanoString, she was founder and Director of Research of Oncofactor Corporation from 2011-2015 where she discovered and developed therapeutics against novel immune checkpoint inhibitors.

She has authored more than 60 articles and book chapters, and her work has been included in leading journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, Immunity, Science and Translational Medicine, and the Journal of Immunotherapy of Cancer. She is a leader for the SITC Cancer Immune Response Transcriptional Profiling subcommittee, serves on the SITC Industry Committee, and is a co-lead author for an in-progress manuscript for the SITC Biomarker working group. She is also an associate editor for the Journal of Translational Medicine and Frontiers in Immunology. She holds membership in numerous professional societies, including SITC, AACR, ASCO, and ESMO. Dr. Warren has a PhD in immunology from the University of Washington and performed her thesis research at the Institute for Systems Biology.

SITC Election Platform Statement

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

The impact of immunotherapy has grown tremendously in the past decade, and thousands of patients have benefitted from advances in checkpoint inhibitors, cell therapies, immunomodulatory agents, and cancer vaccines. Nevertheless, challenges remain in extending the benefits of immunotherapy even further, and to do so, SITC must address the following questions:

  • How do we develop therapies that will be effective in more patients? There is still much to be learned about the dynamic interactions between the immune system and cancer. By better targeting of immune pathways, we can increase both the number of patients who benefit from IO agents and the duration of benefit they experience. In parallel, we must better understand how therapies perform in different populations of patients to ensure we are developing treatments that will work for everyone.
  • How do we direct a patient to the therapy that will be most effective for that individual? As more immunotherapies are approved, it becomes more challenging to select the one that will be most effective for an individual patient. For this reason, SITC must also support the development of predictive biomarkers in parallel to therapeutics development to guide clinical decision-making.
  • How do we minimize the overall impact of cancer for patients? Early stage cancer is easier to treat than cancer that progresses to a later stage, so by supporting the development of immunotherapies in earlier stage disease, and as an earlier line of treatment, we have the opportunity to leverage an immune system that is not exhausted and/or impaired by prior treatments. In parallel, SITC should focus on developing effective therapies with minimal side effects for the patients at all stages of disease to maximize quality of life while a patient is undergoing treatment.

What is your vision for SITC?

SITC will continue to be the leader in promoting advances toward the cure for cancer by leveraging the most two most powerful weapons we have against it – the immune system itself and the incredible network of researchers, clinicians, students, patients, and advocates who are united in the quest to cure cancer. This network exists within academia, industry, non-profit and government research communities, and by working to engage stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, SITC maximizes its chance to make substantial and meaningful progress in the fight to cure cancer. Great ideas come from anywhere and progress only happens when we all work together. SITC is poised to facilitate those interactions, support those young investigators, and drive those conversations that will ultimately lead to more patients being saved.