Charles L. Sawyers Elected AACR President, Young Investigators Receive More Than $1 Million From DKMS, and more

Charles L. Saywer, MD

Charles L. Sawyers Elected 2020-21 AACR President

The Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced Charles L. Sawyers, MD, as the AACR President-Elect for 2020 to 2021. Dr. Sawyers is a hematologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), where he also serves as Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP).

He previously served as AACR President from 2013 to 2014. He will assume the Presidency at the AACR 2021 Annual Meeting.

Dr. Sawyers also holds the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis at MSKCC and serves as a professor at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. He is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Sawyers’ research has focused on the development of targeted therapies, with an emphasis on combating cancer drug resistance. He was recognized for his critical role in the development of imatinib and dasatinib for chronic myeloid leukemia.

Dr. Sawyers was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2008, the National Academy of Sciences in 2010, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014. He is also a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board for the National Institutes of Health.

Source: AACR news release, June 9, 2020.

Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hackensack Meridian Health Announce New Research Collaboration

As part of their partnership, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Hackensack Meridian Health have formed an Immunology Research Collaboration to help fund immunotherapy research. The centers recently announced three researchers who will receive funding for their projects over 1 to 2 years:

Johannes Zakkrzewski, MD

Johannes Zakrzewski, MD, Associate Member in the Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation, for his project, “Targeting Auto and Neoantigens with In Vivo-Generated Antigen-Specific T Cells,” which will investigate the capacity of the thymus gland in mice to produce cancer-targeting T-cells

Boglarka Gyurkocza, MD

Boglarka Gyurkocza, MD, medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering, for her project, “Targeting the Gut Microbiome to Improve Outcomes after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation,” which will explore whether certain antibiotics preserve specific anaerobic intestinal microbiota in patients who underwent stem cell transplants

Rena Feinman, PhD

Rena Feinman, PhD, Associate Member in the Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation, for her project, “Impact of the Gut Microbiome on Immunotherapeutic Response in Multiple Myeloma,” which will investigate whether gut microbiota can predict relapse risk in patients with high-risk disease multiple myeloma

“While immunotherapy is revolutionizing cancer treatment, its benefits are not always sustainable over the long term,” said Andre Goy, MD, Executive Director of John Theurer Cancer Center and Physician-in-Chief of the Hackensack Meridian Health Oncology Care Transformation Service. “The work of these investigators will expand our knowledge of the immune system and glean new insights [that] may lead to novel immunotherapeutics that are more powerful and more durable than those we are using today.”

Source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center press release, June 9, 2020.

Richard L. Schilsky, MD

ASCO Chief Medical Officer Announces Retirement

Richard L. Schilsky, MD, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), has announced plans to retire from the organization in February 2021. Dr. Schilsky is the organization’s first CMO, a position he helped to design and has held since 2013. He has also served as an ASCO Executive Vice President for the past 8 years and held the position of President from 2008 to 2009.

Dr. Schilsky spent 30 years at the University of Chicago (UChicago), where he served as Chief of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine as well as Deputy Director of the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. His work focused on new drug development and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. He previously held the position of Chair of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), a cooperative clinical research group funded by the National Cancer Institute and now known as the Alliance.

Source: ASCO Connection, June 4, 2020.

Young Investigators Receive More Than $1 Million From DKMS

German-based nonprofit Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei (DKMS), one of the world’s largest bone marrow registries, awarded nearly €1 million, more than $1 million, to four early-career scientists who are researching treatments for hematologic malignancies. The recipients of the John A. Hansen Research Grants will each receive €240,000 ($270,000) over a 3-year period to support their work.

Cynthia Perez, PhD

Cynthia Perez, PhD, Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland
Project: Exploiting SLAMF7 self-interactions to provide additional co-stimulation to CAR-T cells against multiple myeloma

Andrea Schmidts, MD

Andrea Schmidts, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Project: CRISPR-based modeling of genetic resistance to CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma

Yiouli Ktena, MD

Yiouli Ktena, MD, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Project: Defining the role and targets of T-cell DNA methylation in control of graft-versus-host disease and the graft-versus-tumor effect after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Mirjam Belderbos, MD, PhD

Mirjam Belderbos, MD, PhD, Prinses Máxima Centrum in Utrecht, Netherlands
Project: Population dynamics of post-transplant hematopoiesis using single cell analysis of somatic mutations

Source: DKMS press release, June 30, 2020.