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Carl H. June, MD, FAACR, Honored With Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will award Carl H. June, MD, FAACR, with the 2023 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research during the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 held April 14-19 in Orlando, FL.


June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy, Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is recognized for his groundbreaking work in developing the first gene-edited cell therapy for cancer and for demonstrating that adoptive T-cell therapy can induce remission and in some cases cure patients with advanced cancer.

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Carl H. June, MD, FA... - Click to enlarge in new windowCarl H. June, MD, FAACR. Carl H. June, MD, FAACR

Following his early report of synthetic T-cell activation nearly 30 years ago, June successfully developed a method of producing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to treat refractory and relapsed leukemia. This technology, which involves the genetic reengineering of a patient's T cells to combat their disease, is the first gene transfer therapy technique that has demonstrated sustained success in cancer patients and has shown tremendous promise for the treatment of hematologic malignancies.


June demonstrated that it is possible to genetically alter patient-derived T cells to enable them to specifically recognize and kill cells that overexpress certain proteins, such as the CD19 (cluster of differentiation 19) antigen. There are now six FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies for multiple blood cancers, including two recent approvals for multiple myeloma. Some of the earliest patients treated have experienced long-lasting remissions stretching past 10 years. This form of precision medicine represents the first therapy ever developed entirely in an academic setting to receive breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA.


June's seminal contributions have not only led to the establishment of CAR T-cell therapy for blood cancers, but now applications in chronic infections and autoimmune diseases are being investigated. June and his research team at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center continue to report on numerous aspects of fundamental CAR T-cell biology while remaining at the forefront of developing the next generation of CAR T-cell therapies.


"Dr. June is a trailblazer in the field of cancer immunotherapy whose scientific expertise and vision for the field have been crucial to pivotal scientific discoveries that have improved and saved many lives from cancer," said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. "His work has transformed the treatment of hematologic malignancies and holds great promise for many other types of cancer. We are grateful for Dr. June's numerous scientific contributions and are thrilled to recognize him with this prestigious award."


The AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research was established to honor an individual who has made significant fundamental contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a body of work. These contributions, whether in research, leadership, or mentorship, must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.


Fred Tabung, PhD, MSPH, Appointed to National Cancer Advisory Board

Fred Tabung, PhD, MSPH, has been appointed by U.S. President Joe Biden to the Ohio State University's National Cancer Advisory Board. He is one of six individuals from across the U.S. tapped to serve in this important role to help guide the national cancer research program agenda. The board guides the director of the National Cancer Institute in setting the course for the national cancer research program and will complement the Cancer Moonshot initiative that President Biden reignited in 2022 to help end cancer.


Tabung is a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Research Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James). He also serves as Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Tabung studies how diet-related metabolic dysregulation impacts cancer risk and survival, especially among patients with gastrointestinal cancers. He has a particular interest in identifying biological pathways that link dietary patterns and cancer outcomes to find novel biomarkers for cancer prevention and control.

Fred Tabung, PhD, MS... - Click to enlarge in new windowFred Tabung, PhD, MSPH. Fred Tabung, PhD, MSPH

"My life experiences growing up and working in Africa tremendously influenced my professional career choice to focus on diet and nutrition as factors in health and disease, especially cancer," Tabung noted. "I am honored to have the opportunity to serve in this advisory board role and to contribute to advancing knowledge on cancer prevention."


Tabung's research has been recognized with multiple awards. Most recently, he was named an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and was appointed to the Mechanism Expert Committee that advises the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research.


Michael Taylor, MD, PhD, FRCS(C), to Serve as Director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Research Program

Michael Taylor, MD, PhD, FRCS(C), an esteemed molecular biologist and CPRIT Scholar, has become the Director of the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Research Program at Texas Children's Hospital and at Baylor College of Medicine. He will also remain clinically active as a pediatric neurosurgeon in the Division of Neurosurgery of the Department of Surgery, at Texas Children's Hospital.


"I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Taylor, a world-renowned physician, neurosurgeon, and researcher, to Texas Children's," said Mark A. Wallace, President and CEO of Texas Children's. "His extensive experience and passion for brain cancer research will be a tremendous asset to our team and will strengthen our ability to provide the very best care to childhood cancer patients in Texas, throughout the nation, and worldwide."

Michael Taylor, MD, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMichael Taylor, MD, PhD, FRCS(C). Michael Taylor, MD, PhD, FRCS(C)

As Director of the transformational pediatric neuro-oncology research program, Taylor will lead a team of investigators dedicated to pursuing novel therapies for particularly difficult-to-treat pediatric brain tumors, including medulloblastoma and ependymoma.


"Throughout my career, I have been inspired by the cancer research taking place at Texas Children's, and I am honored to be joining this collaborative, cutting-edge team," Taylor noted. "While I am dedicated to curing medulloblastoma and ependymoma, most of all, I look forward to continuing my research into preventing these aggressive cancers. My vision is that no family ever has to face this devastating diagnosis."


"Dr. Taylor's research into treating and preventing rare, aggressive, and recurrent pediatric brain tumors is a wonderful addition to our program, and we are so excited to welcome him to our team," said Susan Blaney, MD, Director of Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Center and Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. "I have no doubt that Dr. Taylor and his laboratory will enhance and accelerate our mission to cure childhood cancer."


Within the Neurosurgery division, Taylor will continue his work as a clinical neurosurgeon. "I am very proud to welcome Dr. Taylor to our special neurosurgical team," said Howard Weiner, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery at Texas Children's Hospital and Professor and Vice Chair of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine. "He is a widely recognized international leader in pediatric brain tumor research and will be a huge addition to our team. We are so impressed by Dr. Taylor's expertise and sincere dedication to the patients he cares for, and I look forward to working closely with him."


Prior to joining Texas Children's, Taylor was Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and a principal investigator in the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He earned his medical degree from the University of Western Ontario and his PhD from the University of Toronto/Ontario, and he completed his fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery and neuro-oncology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


Jordan Berlin, MD, Named Director of Vanderbilt's Division of Hematology & Oncology

Jordan Berlin, MD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, has become Director of Vanderbilt's Division of Hematology and Oncology.


"Dr. Berlin has all the qualifications-superb investigator, excellent mentor, outstanding physician. Plus, I don't know anyone who cares more about the division and its people than him. I am excited to see where the division goes in the coming years under his leadership. There is so much going on in Hematology and Oncology, and this division is poised to lead changes that impact outcomes nationally," said Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

Jordan Berlin, MD. J... - Click to enlarge in new windowJordan Berlin, MD. Jordan Berlin, MD

Having joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1999, Berlin is Associate Director for Clinical Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and Co-Director of the administrative core for the Gastrointestinal SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant from the National Cancer Institute.


"Dr. Berlin has done an outstanding job as interim director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, and I'm excited that he has agreed to accept this position," said Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD, the Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Chair in Oncology and Director of Vanderbilt-Ingram. "He is admired by his colleagues here, highly respected by other oncologists nationally and internationally, and a proven leader."


Berlin has practiced medicine for 3 decades and has specialized in treating patients with gastrointestinal cancers with a particular interest in pancreatic cancer. He has advanced cancer care by leading numerous clinical trials, authoring research studies in prestigious medical journals, and most importantly, mentoring physicians in their careers.


Berlin came to VUMC to lead the GI Cancer Research Program. He is the Associate Director for Clinical Research at VICC and leads Phase I research. He is also the principal investigator on the VICC UM1 to conduct early-phase trials within the National Cancer Institute's Early Phase Clinical Trials Network and helps to co-lead the VICC GI SPORE.


"I am honored and humbled to have been given this opportunity by Dr. Rathmell and VUMC," Berlin said. "The Division of Hematology and Oncology is about the people: the people we teach, the people we care for, and the people who do the research that will continue to change the outcomes for our patients for the better, and I can't ask for a better group of people to lead."


New Cotswold Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Announced

The new Cotswold Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship offers $500,000 over the course of 5 years to support a postdoctoral researcher studying immunology, cancer research, or vaccine biology at The Wistar Institute. This award was established as part of the Institute's Bold Science // Global Impact campaign that launched in 2021 to support a postdoctoral fellow at Wistar who is not generally eligible for federal institutional training grants and contributes to international diversity.


The recipient of the newly created fellowship is Minjeong Yeon, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dario C. Altieri, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor at The Wistar Institute. Yeon is researching the role of Parkin, a gene that has been linked to tumor growth and cancer cell metabolism in cancer. Her goal is to help develop treatment options and therapies for late-stage prostate cancer.


Yeon earned her PhD in Biochemistry from Kangwon National University in South Korea where she studied anti-cancer drug resistance in gastric and lung cancers. To kickstart her postdoctoral career, she moved to the U.S. and joined the Altieri lab at Wistar in 2022. Ultimately, she would like to run an independent research lab and promote international scientific collaboration between the U.S. and other countries.

Minjeong Yeon, PhD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMinjeong Yeon, PhD. Minjeong Yeon, PhD

"I am grateful for this opportunity from the Cotswold Foundation because it makes an immeasurably positive and exponential impact on my research," shared Yeon about the award. "The fellowship will allow me to travel to conferences, communicate my science, learn from researchers in my field, and explore new directions for my experiments. Through opportunities like this, early career scientists from different places can contribute their knowledge to the research community. Encouraging different backgrounds and experiences of scientists has a big effect on science."


The fellowship was established by I. Wistar Morris III and the Cotswold Foundation who is a former Wistar trustee and a descendant of the Wistar family. "I am so pleased to support The Wistar Institute, both because it is one of the transformative and leading biomedical research organizations in the country, and secondly, as there are long-existing family ties here," said Mr. Morris of the Fellowship in the Institute's 2022 Impact Report.


"Postdoctoral researchers are a critical part of Wistar's biomedical research engine, and many come from around the world," commented Altieri. "The Wistar Institute is committed to training and developing the careers of talented graduates such as Minjeong as they innovate in the cancer, immunology, and vaccine space. Because of the generosity of I. Wistar Morris III and the Cotswold Foundation, we are able to expand the field and depth of opportunity that we can offer our rising scientists."