Steven Rosenberg Receives Szent-Györgyi Prize, FDA Names Elizabeth Jungman Head of Regulatory Policy, and more

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD
Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD

Steven A. Rosenberg Receives Szent-Györgyi Prize

The National Foundation for Cancer Research has awarded Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, the 2019 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research in recognition of his role in developing adoptive cell transfer immunotherapy for cancer treatment.

Dr. Rosenberg was responsible for the development of the first effective gene therapies and immunotherapies for certain patients with advanced cancer. He also was the first person to successfully insert genetically modified T cells into humans.

He is Chief of the Surgery Branch, Senior Investigator, and Head of the Tumor Immunology Section at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In this role, he has conducted immunotherapy trials that have led to the regression of solid tumor cancers and hematologic malignancies. His pioneering work included early work with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in melanoma and being the first to use chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy in patients with aggressive lymphomas.

“We’re still learning about what immunotherapy can do for cancer patients, and we’re very excited about the advances to come,” Dr. Rosenberg commented in a press release announcing the award.

Source: National Cancer Institute press release, February 12, 2019.

City of Hope Earns Third NCI SPORE Grant

The NCI has awarded City of Hope its third Lymphoma Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. The grant covers a five-year period and will provide the center with $12.5 million in funding.

NCI’s Lymphoma SPOREs are intended to boost translational research that will lead to the development of new approaches to the prevention, detection, and treatment of lymphoma.
“Six clinical trials are proposed in this grant, five of which [use] agents (cellular products, small molecules, radiolabeled antibodies) that will be produced at City of Hope in its GMP Manufacturing Core and have been developed from the institution’s preclinical laboratory studies,” said Larry W. Kwak, MD, PhD, vice president and deputy director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at City of Hope, where he also is director of the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center.

Over the next five years, City of Hope researchers will use the funding to study CAR T-cell therapy and vaccine combinations for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), new treatments for relapsed/treatment-resistant Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), blocking STAT3 activation in NHL, and managing therapy-related myelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukemia in patients with HL who received an autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation.

Source: City of Hope press release, February 26, 2019.

Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD
Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD

Giulio Draetta Named Chief Scientific Officer of MD Anderson

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has named Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD, its first chief scientific officer. In this newly created position, Dr. Draetta will focus on encouraging innovation in drug discovery and leading the organization’s basic science and translational research programs.

Dr. Draetta joined MD Anderson in 2011, where he has held several positions, including director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science from 2011 to 2016. He also holds the endowed position of Sewell Family Chair in the Department of Genomic Medicine.

Source: MD Anderson Cancer Center press release, March 4, 2019.

Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center Granted Funding for New Hematology Research Center

The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation has awarded Smilow Cancer Hospital (SCH) and Yale Cancer Center (YCC) a five-year grant to establish the DeLuca Center for Innovation in Hematology Research.

The funding will help establish a biobank and support researchers working on the next generation of treatments for leukemia, myeloma, and other blood cancers. “We are so appreciative of this extremely generous and transformative gift from the DeLuca Foundation to help our team drive innovative research in blood cancers,” Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of YCC and physician-in-chief of SCH, commented. “The DeLuca Center marks a bold, new initiative at YCC and SCH that will accelerate cancer research and strengthen our battle against hematologic malignancies.”

Source: Yale Cancer Center press release, April 24, 2019.

Elizabeth Jungman, JD, MPH
Elizabeth Jungman, JD, MPH

FDA Names Elizabeth Jungman Head of Regulatory Policy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has selected Elizabeth Jungman, JD, MPH, to serve as the head of the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Policy. Ms. Jungman currently directs the public health programs at Pew Charitable Trusts, where she has overseen initiatives related to the safety of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and other consumer health-care products.

Ms. Jungman will begin her tenure at the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Policy this summer. This office falls within the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and is responsible for managing the development of new guidelines and policies for regulating human drugs, such as reining in abuses of the FDA’s safety systems.

In her position at Pew, Ms. Jungman worked closely with the FDA, and she serves on the agency’s Pharmacy Compounding Advisory Committee. She also worked as a senior health policy adviser with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; in this role, she helped draft and negotiate the FDA Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, as well as other health- and drug-related legislation.

Source: STAT, April 24, 2019.