James P. Allison, Ph.D. (IOM, NAS)
Chair, Department of Immunology; Director, Immunology Platform; Deputy Director, David H. Koch Center for Applied Studies in Genitourinary Cancers; Vivian L. Smith, Distinguished Chair in Immunology | The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Targeting Immune Checkpoints in Cancer Therapy: New Insights and Opportunities
Dr. Allison is a professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Immunology in the Division of Basic Science Research. He directs MD Anderson’s Immunology Platform and is deputy director of the David H. Koch Center for Applied Research in Genitourinary Cancers, Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology – Research. He also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Dr. Allison earned his doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin and did his postdoctoral fellowship in molecular immunology at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, CA. He came to MD Anderson in 2012 from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Dr. Allison’s research focuses on the mechanisms that govern T cell responses and applying that basic understanding to overcome cancer’s evasion of attack by the immune system. His fundamental discoveries include the T cell antigen receptor used by T cells to recognize and bind to antigens; the co-stimulatory molecule CD28 that must signal the T cell to launch an immune response to a bound antigen; and the immune system inhibitory checkpoint molecule CTLA-4, which inhibits activated T cells from attacking. Dr. Allison developed an antibody against CTLA-4 that became ipilimumab, the first drug ever shown to increase survival for patients with metastatic melanoma. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Additional checkpoints and co-stimulatory molecules also have been identified. Dr. Allison is exploring combinations of immunological therapies and targeted drugs in preclinical studies to more effectively treat a variety of cancers.
James Brugarolas, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Developmental Biology | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Personalizing Medicine for the Kidney Cancer Patient
Dr. Brugarolas is an associate professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine, division of hematology-oncology, and Developmental Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He received his medical degree from the University of Navarra, Spain (1993), and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998). He trained in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center and completed a fellowship in oncology at a combined program of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2003. He was an instructor at Harvard Medical School until 2006, when he was recruited by UT Southwestern Medical Center to create a program in kidney cancer. Discoveries from his laboratory have led to a new classification of kidney cancer, the identification of a new familial kidney cancer syndrome, and the development of the first animal model to reproduce the genetics, biology, and treatment responsiveness of kidney cancer in patients.
Dr. Brugarolas is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and has received multiple awards including a V Scholar Award (V Foundation), a Research Scholar Award (American Cancer Society), and a Claudia Adams Barr Award for Innovative Cancer Research (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). He has served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of kidney cancer programs at several NCI-designated cancer centers and in study sections and ad hoc review panels of the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Command.
Dr. Hazle is a professor and founding chairman of the Department of Imaging Physics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he currently holds the Bernard W. Biedenharn Chair in Cancer Research. John obtained his B.S. degree in physics and M.S. in medical physics from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He is certified by the American Board of Radiology in both Diagnostic and Therapeutic Medical Physics, as well as by the American Board of Medical Physics in Magnetic Resonance Physics. His primary research interests are magnetic resonance imaging applications in minimally invasive therapies and pre-clinical imaging. He is the director of the NCI funded Small Animal Imaging Facility core research facility at MD Anderson. He has obtained nationally peer-reviewed grants in both of these areas. John has over 100 publications and has held leadership positions in several national scientific and professional organizations, including president of the American Association of Physicists and Medicine and the Commission for Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs. He has also worked with industry to establish strategic research collaborations including establishing the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging that is a $25M partnership with General Electric Healthcare Technologies (GEHT) that also obtained $25M in state of Texas support through the Governors’s Enterprise Fund. He has also led technology licensing agreements with both GEHT and Siemens.
Stephen D. Hursting, Ph.D.
Professor of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health; Director, Nutrition and Cancer Research Program, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Obesity and Cancer Prevention
Dr. Stephen Hursting is professor in the Department of Nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill and directs the Nutrition and Cancer Research Program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also professor at the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis, NC. He earned his Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and M.P.H. in nutritional epidemiology from UNC-Chapel Hill, and he completed postdoctoral training in molecular carcinogenesis and cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Prior to joining the UNC faculty in 2014, Dr. Hursting was professor and chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and professor of Molecular Carcinogenesis at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (2005–2014). He previously served as chief of the NCI’s Nutrition and Molecular Carcinogenesis Laboratory Section and deputy director of the NCI’s Office of Preventive Oncology (1999–2005). His research interests center on diet-gene interactions relevant to cancer prevention, particularly the molecular and metabolic mechanisms underlying the associations between obesity and cancers of the breast, pancreas and colon, as well as the interplay between obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Primarily using transgenic mouse models of breast cancer in parallel with cancer prevention trials, he is currently focusing on the molecular and metabolic changes occurring in response to lifestyle-based (dietary and physical activity), or pharmacologic manipulation of energy metabolism and cell signaling pathways, with emphasis on the IGF-1/Akt/mTOR and Wnt signaling pathways and inflammation. He also has expertise in assessing diet-related serum and tissue biomarkers, including hormones/growth factors, cytokines and chemokines, and microRNA’s in mouse and human samples.
Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas; Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology Emerita and Professor Emerita, Department of Immunology, and Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
CPRIT: Moving Forward
Best known for her work in immunology of skin cancer, Dr. Kripke showed that chronic exposure to UV radiation produces cancers that are highly antigenic and that immune alterations induced by UV are responsible for tumor survival and spread. She discovered that mice exposed to UV radiation develop a selective, systemic immune suppression, and her work led to a new field of photoimmunology. Dr. Kripke’s research has provided insight into how an immune system compromised by UV radiation contributes to the development of melanoma and increased vulnerability to infectious diseases.
Dr. Kripke established a new basic research department at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and later served as vice president for academic programs and executive vice president and chief academic officer. She has been a leader in many organizations dedicated to research and collaboration and has contributed substantially to the field of environmental science.
Herbert Levine, Ph.D. (NAS)
Co-director, Center for Theoretical Biological Physics; Hasselmann Professor of Bioengineering | Rice University
Can Theory Help Cancer Biology? The Epithelial-Mesenchynmal Transformation as a Test Case
Dr. Levine is a professor in the Bioengineering and Physics Departments at Rice University. He is also co-director of the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (CTBP), a National Science Foundation (NSF) Physics Frontier Center devoted to applying concepts and methods from physical science to complex biological and biomedical problems. He is also coordinator of an international research network of researchers in the Physics of Living Systems, under the auspices of the NSF Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) initiative. Dr. Levine did his undergraduate work at MIT, and received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1979. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard and a position on the research staff of the corporate research lab of Schlumberger Inc., he was appointed in 1987 to the faculty at the University of California, San Diego. He rose to the ranks of distinguished professor before leaving in 2012 to accept his new post at Rice. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Stephen H. Little, M.D.
Cardiologist, Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center; Director, Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center Valve Institute; Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College | Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center
Moving Blood, Removing Boundaries: A Story of Collaboration
Dr. Little, a cardiologist with the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, is medical director of The Valve Clinic—a multidisciplinary medical clinic focused on the assessment and treatment of complex valvular heart disease. He also serves as director of the Houston Methodist Valve Institute and is director of the Cardiovascular Hemodynamics Imaging Laboratory (CHIL).
Dr. Little’s recent research activities and peer-reviewed publications have focused on novel use of 3-D echocardiography for the quantification of native and prosthetic valve dysfunction as well as imaging guidance for percutaneous structural heart interventions. His team has created a robust in vitro flow system for multimodality functional valve imaging under tailored hemodynamic conditions. In collaboration with research scientists and mathematicians, Dr. Little’s research group creates complex heart valve constructs to address an increasingly important clinical need: to improve our understanding of heart valve dysfunction by employing multimodality imaging to better characterize and quantify these complex intra-cardiac flow conditions.
He received his medical degree from McMaster University and completed post graduate training in internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Little completed research fellowships in echocardiography at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Society of Echocardiography. He is an associate professor of clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and adjunct associate professor at Rice University’s Department of Bioengineering.
Dr. Osborne was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and received his A.B. and his M.D. from the University of Missouri, both with honors. He completed his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins and followed this with three years as a clinical associate at the Medicine Branch of the National Cancer Institute. He was a faculty member at The University of Texas Health Science Center from 1977 until 1999 and became Chief of Medical Oncology in 1992. In 1999, Dr. Osborne moved to Baylor College of Medicine to direct a new Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine; additionally, in 2004 he was named the first Director of the new Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM.
Dr. Osborne's research interests have focused on the biology and treatment of breast cancer. He has published extensively on the role of growth factors in breast cancer pathogenesis and treatment, and he has also investigated the mechanisms of resistance to endocrine and HER2-targeted therapies in breast cancer. As previous chairman of the Breast Cancer Committee for the Southwest Oncology Group, he directed numerous clinical trials investigating new treatment strategies in primary and metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Osborne currently directs the Baylor Breast Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence Grant. Dr. Osborne has authored more than 400 manuscripts dealing with the biology and treatment of breast cancer.
Dr. Pazin joined the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Extramural Research Program in 2011. He is part of the NHGRI team overseeing the ENCODE project, generating an Encyclopedia of DNA Elements from the human genome, and the recently completed modENCODE project, identifying functional elements in the fly and worm genomes. He manages a portfolio of grants in functional genomics. He is also a member of the NHGRI Data Access Committee.
Prior to joining NHGRI, Dr. Pazin was a principal investigator conducting research on the role of chromatin remodeling in gene regulation at the National Institute on Aging, and at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. This research was performed using cell-free (biochemical) assays and cell-based (single-gene and genomic) assays, using T helper cells and neurons as model systems. He received his B.S. in chemistry from MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S., is the president and chief executive officer of Susan G. Komen®. She is responsible for setting the strategic direction and operations of the world’s largest breast cancer organization, in line with Komen’s key mission pillars: research, community health, public health policy, and global outreach.
Dr. Salerno joined Komen in September of 2013 and oversees a global network of nearly 120 Komen Affiliates which have funded more than $1.8 billion in local education, screening, and treatment programs, while also providing financial aid and psychosocial support to people facing breast cancer.
With Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Salerno sets the direction of Komen’s breast cancer research program, the largest of any nonprofit organization, with more than $847 million invested in research since Komen’s founding in 1982.
Dr. Salerno brings decades of public health and research experience to Komen. She joined Komen from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), where she was the Leonard D. Schaeffer Executive Officer, serving as executive director and chief operating officer. In that role, she was responsible for directing the IOM’s research and policy programs and guiding the Institute’s operations on a daily basis.
She also oversaw the National Cancer Policy Forum—a consortium of government, industry, academic, consumer, and other representatives that identifies and examines emerging high-priority policy issues in cancer. During her tenure at IOM, she co-wrote The Weight of the Nation, an examination of, and solutions for, America’s obesity epidemic. The book accompanied an Emmy-nominated HBO documentary in 2013.
Previous to IOM, Dr. Salerno served as Deputy Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She oversaw the Institute’s research into aging, including research on Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, frailty and function in late life, and the social, behavioral, and demographic aspects of aging. In that role, she designed public-private initiatives to address aging stereotypes, novel approaches to support training of new investigators in aging, and programs to communicate health and research advances to the public.
She directed the continuum of Geriatrics and Extended Care programs across the nation for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Washington, D.C., where she launched widely recognized national initiatives for pain management and improving end-of-life care. As Associate Chief of Staff at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dr. Salerno developed and implemented innovative approaches to geriatric primary care and coordinated area-wide geriatric medicine training. She co-founded the Washington D.C. Area Geriatric Education Center Consortium, a collaboration of more than 160 educational and community organizations within the Baltimore-Washington region.
A board-certified physician in internal medicine, Dr. Salerno earned her M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1985 and a Master of Science degree in Health Policy from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1976. She lives in Dallas, has three children, and is an avid baseball fan.
Dr. de Sauvage obtained his PhD summa cum lauda from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He joined the laboratory of David Goeddel at Genentech as a postdoctoral fellow in 1990 and was hired as a Scientist in 1992. In 1994, Dr. de Sauvage's team at Genentech discovered Thrombopoietin (TPO), the long sought physiological regulator of platelet production. His laboratory made many discoveries in the field of hematopoeisis before switching his focus to the Hedgehog pathway in the late 1990s. His work led to the development of vismodegib, a Hedgehog Pathway Inhibitor recently approved for the treatment of metastatic or locally advanced basal cell carcinoma and currently tested in clinical trials for the treatment of a number of other cancers. In 2011 he received the Achievement in Advancing Targeted Therapies for Cancer & Melanoma Award from the American Skin Association. Dr. de Sauvage is now the vice president of Research-Molecular Oncology at Genentech Inc.
Dr. Spitz joined the faculty of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1981 and was named founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology in 1995, until stepping down in 2008. During her 27-year career at MD Anderson, Dr. Spitz conducted innovative molecular and genetic epidemiology research that helped propel their cancer prevention program into international prominence. She joined Baylor College of Medicine in 2009 to provide strategic direction in growing their population sciences program. Dr. Spitz received her medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg, South Africa, and earned her Master's of Public Health degree from The University of Texas School of Public Health.
Dr. Spitz has a long standing interest in genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and has contributed to more than 400 scientific publications, with a research focus on the study of interindividual variation in susceptibility to tobacco carcinogenesis. She has developed a lung cancer risk prediction model, has participated in lung cancer genome-wide association studies, and is a founding member of the International Lung Cancer Consortium. She advanced the concept of Integrative Epidemiology that links classical epidemiology with the emerging wealth of genomic, epigenomic and transcriptomic information for prediction of cancer risk and outcome. She sits on the external scientific advisory boards of several cancer centers. She has served on National Institutes of Health study sections and is past president of the American Society of Preventive Oncology.
Ian M. Thompson, Jr., M.D.
Director, Cancer Therapy and Research Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center; Glenda and Gary Woods Distinguished Chair in Urologic Oncology, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance; Professor, Department of Urology | The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Prevention and Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
Dr. Thompson received a B.S. from West Point and M.D. from Tulane University. After a residency in urology in San Antonio, he completed a fellowship in Urologic Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is the director of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Dr. Thompson has published over 500 scientific papers, several dozen book chapters, and has edited six textbooks in medicine and surgery. He is the chair of the Early Detection Research Network of the National Cancer Institute and chair of the Genitourinary Committee of the Southwest Oncology Group. He has previously chaired the Urology Residency Review Committee of ACGME and served as president of the Society of Urologic Oncology. He is president-elect of the American Board of Urology.
Dr. Thompson is the Principal Investigator of the San Antonio Center for Biomarkers of Risk of Prostate Cancer. This cohort, with up to 15 years of follow-up, follows over 4,000 men for biomarkers of prostate cancer. He was Principal Investigator (PI) of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, PI of S8794 (Adjuvant Radiotherapy for pT3 Prostate Cancer), and co-PI of the Selenium and Vitamin E Prevention Trial.
Dr. Thompson retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army, serving as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center and as a General Surgeon in Saudi Arabia and Iraq with the 41st Combat Support Hospital during Operation Desert Storm/Shield.