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​AACR-Bristol-MyersSquibb Fellowships

The AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology Fellowships represent a joint effort to encourage and support mentored young investigators to conduct cancer research. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who have completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past five years. Proposed research projects must be translational or clinical in nature.

2016 Grantees

AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship in Translational Immuno-oncology


 Randy F. Sweis, MD
Clinical Fellow, Division of Hematology/Oncology
The University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois
Facilitating immunotherapy responses in non-T cell-inflamed bladder cancer

Statement of Scientific Research
Urothelial bladder cancer is a lethal disease with very few novel therapies developed over the past 30 years. Recently, the anti-PD-L1 antibody, atezolizumab, was approved for metastatic bladder cancer. Despite the impressive and durable responses observed in some patients, most do not respond to immune checkpoint blockade. Mechanisms of resistance in bladder cancer remain poorly understood. Intratumoral T-cell infiltration has been associated with improved survival and response to immunotherapy. To develop strategies that can overcome primary immunotherapy resistance, this proposal will molecularly characterize non-T cell inflamed tumor microenvironment, and mechanistically elucidate whether certain oncogenic drivers are causally related to T-cell exclusion and responsible for anti-PD-1/PD-L1 resistance. To explore this hypothesis, both clinical tissue samples and preclinical laboratory modeling will be used for experimental investigation.

Dr. Sweis attended the University of Chicago for his undergraduate studies, where he obtained bachelor’s degrees in both biological chemistry and economics. He then took a position at Merck Research Laboratories as a medicinal chemist working in drug development, until he returned to the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine to obtain his MD degree. His internal medicine residency training was completed at the University of Michigan. Most recently, he returned to the University of Chicago for a combined fellowship in hematology/oncology and clinical pharmacology and pharmacogenomics.

Acknowledgement of Support
Receiving the 2016 AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship in Translational Immuno-oncology is a tremendous honor. It will enable me to complete an important project with high potential for rapid translation into novel treatments that will allow more patients to benefit from modern immunotherapies.

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AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship in Translational Immuno-oncology


Brian Christopher Miller, MD, PhD
Clinical Fellow, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts
Dissecting mechanisms of PD-1 blockade with single-cell RNA-sequencing

Scientific Statement of Research
Anti-PD-1 therapy is an important new treatment for many different malignancies, but overall response rates are less than 40 percent and the mechanisms of action are not fully known. The goal of this study is to understand the mechanisms by which anti-PD-1 therapy augments the antitumor immune response. Dr. Miller and his collaborators have developed a novel massively parallel single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) platform that comprehensively defines the global expression profile of all major immune lineages in the tumor microenvironment. They will create a cellular map of the tumor immune microenvironment to identify the populations required for the efficacy of anti-PD-1 therapy. Based on their preliminary findings, they will study the contribution of NKT cells to antitumor immunity by testing the hypothesis that NKT cell activity is inhibited in tumors by PD-1 signaling. This work has the potential to discover novel pathways that regulate the immune response and suggest rational combination therapies.

Dr. Miller completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and earned his MD and PhD degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied the functions of autophagy genes in lymphocytes and osteoclasts. Following his residency in internal medicine at Duke University Hospital, he is now an oncology fellow and postdoctoral researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, working with Drs. Nicholas Haining and Arlene Sharpe. Dr. Miller’s long-term research objective is to understand the complex interaction of the immune system with cancer cells, with the goal of identifying novel targets for cancer immunotherapy.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to be awarded the 2016 AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship in Translational Immuno-oncology, which will fund my research to understand the mechanisms of anti-PD-1 therapy. This award will help me to launch my career as an independent investigator in tumor immunology.

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