It is now clear that tumor-immune system interactions are far more complex than simple CTL-mediated tumor cell killing, and that effectively harnessing the immune system to control human cancers requires an integrated understanding of immune interactions ranging from clinically significant anti-tumor immunity, to counter-regulatory limitation of this immunity, to immune responses that actually support tumor development and survival. The overall goal of the Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy (Til) program is to translate the understanding of the immune responses to cancer (both anti-tumor and pro-survival) into innovative approaches for the assessment and treatment of patients with cancer. To accomplish this, TH research is focused around four inter-related themes: Theme 1: Biology of immune cell cancers;Theme 2: Mechanisms of immunological tumor rejection;Theme 3;Microenvironment and host-tumor interactions and Theme 4;Immunotherapy and clinical discovery. The Program is co-led by Kelvin Lee, MD and Kunle Odunsi MD, PhD, who have strong interests in both basic and clinical/population aspects of tumor immunology and immunotherapy. Dr. Lee's leadership efforts focus on the basic and preclinical/translational research in the Program, which dovetails with Dr. Odunsi's leadership focus on the translation and clinical research efforts. The ability to translate research is a particular strength of TH, due in large part to the robust and longstanding inter-programmatic and basic science-clinical interactions. This strength has been enhanced over the last funding cycle by the establishment of the RPCI Center for Immunotherapy (CFI), led by Dr. Odunsi. The CFl houses all the RPCI immunotherapy clinical trials and infrastructure, including new cGMP production and clinical immunomonitoring facilities. These initiatives have occurred in conjunction with relocation (in 2008) of TH membership into 50,000 square feet of new contiguous laboratory space in the new RPCI Center for Pharmacology &Genetics, and the ongoing complete renovation of 36,800 sf in the Cancer Cell Center (supported by C06 RR 020132-01 A l , K. Lee PI) to house TH and CFI members. The Program is comprised of 28 members from 8 RPCI departments (Immunology, Pediatrics, Neurosurgery, Medicine, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Gynecologic Oncology, Cancer Prevention and Control, Surgical Oncology and Pathology), whose total peer-reviewed funding is $10.9M (NCI funding $3.2M) and a total funding of $14.2M. This compares to $6.9M peer reviewed/$9.0M total funding at the last renewal. Since the last renewal, 5 TH members have left the Institute and 3 others have moved to other Programs, while 15 new members (9 recruited from outside the Institute) have joined. Of the 481 publications generated over the last funding cycle, 22% are intra-programmatic and 20% are inter-programmatic, 50 publications are in journals with Impact Factor>10. The Program continues to actively translate its basic science into the clinical arena, with 16 active investigator-initiated trials currently accruing.

Public Health Relevance

It has now become clear that various components ofthe immune system play opposing roles in inhibiting cancer growth as well as supporting its survival. The research ofthe Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program seeks to understand how the immune system responds to cancer, and apply this understanding to new and innovative approaches to diagnose and treat patients with cancer.

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National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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