American Association for Cancer Research

Dream Team Leadership Biographies, Page 1 of 2

Transforming Pancreatic Cancer to a Treatable Disease

Dream Team Leader:
Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D., professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; co-director of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

Dream Team Co-Leader:
Robert H. Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil., associate director for translational research at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania; the Hanna Wise professor in Cancer Research at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa.

Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D.Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D. is the Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli professor of oncology and professor pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. After graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University, Jaffee received her medical degree from New York Medical College. She completed her internship and residency at University of Pittsburgh, Presbyterian-University Hospital, then received a National Institutes of Health Research Training Grant as a research fellow and principal investigator at the University of Pittsburgh under the guidance of Fran Finn, Ph.D., research director. After that, Jaffee came to The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSOM) in Baltimore, Md., where she completed simultaneous fellowships as a senior clinical/research fellow in oncology and senior oncology fellow from 1989 – 1992. In 1992, Jaffee was appointed assistant professor of oncology at JHUSOM, as well as medical director of the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center Cell Processing and Gene Therapy cGMP Facility, a position she holds today. In 1995, Jaffee was appointed to a faculty position in the Graduate Program in Immunology. She holds a faculty position in the Graduate Program in Pharmacology and is a professor of oncology and a professor of pathology at JHUSOM.

Jaffee currently serves as co-director of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program for JHUSOM and associate director for translational research for the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. She established and directs the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center Cell Processing and Gene Therapy cGMP Facility. In 2007, she was appointed deputy director for the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at JHUSOM. She has also served as chair of the Clinical Research Committee at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and as a member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Board of Scientific Counselors and the RAID NCI Program Oversight Committee. In addition to her many Johns Hopkins administrative committee appointments, Jaffee is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association of Immunologists, and Society of Immunotherapy for Cancer. 

Jaffee currently serves on the National Cancer Advisory Board. She is on the Board of Directors for the AACR, is a recent chair of the AACR Cancer Immunology Working Group (CIMM) Steering Committee, and is a member of the Cancer Vaccine Collaborative (CVC). She served as a co-organizer for the AACR Special Conference on Cancer Immunology in 2010 and 2012. Jaffee also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and on the External Advisory Boards of both the Seattle Cancer Consortium Breast SPORE and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Head and Neck Cancer SPORE. She has mentored 21 postdoctoral fellows and 12 graduate students, has over 130 peer-reviewed publications, and is a nationally and internationally recognized guest lecturer. Jaffee holds six vaccine patents, has been an investigator on many immunotherapy clinical studies, and has amassed millions of dollars in grants and sponsorships for the study of the immunotherapy of pancreatic cancer.

Robert H. Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil.Robert H. Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil., is the Hanna Wise professor in Cancer Research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and an investigator of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, as well as the associate director for translational research, at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and from Oxford University, England, as a Rhodes Scholar with a Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) degree in immunology. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Vonderheide completed a residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and subsequently a clinical fellowship in hematology-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Vonderheide’s laboratory combines efforts in both basic research and clinical investigation to advance the understanding of tumor immunology and to develop novel immunotherapies for cancer. His basic research includes deciphering the immunobiology of novel genetically engineered mouse models of cancer, including the regulation of immune surveillance and the tumor microenvironment by CD40 and other pathways, with a focus on pancreatic cancer. His translational work tests novel approaches such as vaccines, antibodies, and adoptive T cells for the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer and other cancers. He has studied "universal" tumor antigens, and immune modulatory pathways involving CD40, GM-CSF, PD-1, CTLA-4, and CD25.

Tumor Organoids: A New Preclinical Model for Drug Sensitivity Analysis


Dream Team Leader:
Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D.,  professor of molecular genetics, Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, Netherlands

Johannes L. Bos, Ph.D., professor, University Medical Center, Utrecht, Netherlands

Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D.Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D., is professor of molecular genetics at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht (Netherlands). Clevers obtained his medical degree in 1984 and his doctorate in 1985 from the University Utrecht, Netherlands. His postdoctoral work (1986-1989) was done with Cox Terhorst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of the Harvard University, Boston, USA. From 1991-2002, he was professor in immunology at the University Utrecht and, since 2002, professor in molecular genetics. From 2002-2012, he was director of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht. Since 2012, he is president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
Clevers has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2000 and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2012. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Dutch Spinoza Award in 2001, the Swiss Louis Jeantet Prize in 2004, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Katharine Berkan Judd Award in 2005, the Israeli Rabbi Shai Shacknai Memorial Prize in 2006, the Dutch Josephine Nefkens Prize for Cancer Research and the German Meyenburg Cancer Research Award in 2008, the Dutch Cancer Society Award in 2009, the United European Gastroenterology Federation (UEGF) Research Prize in 2010, the German Ernst Jung-Preis für Medizin in 2011, the French Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC) Léopold Griffuel Prize and the Heineken Prize in 2012 and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2013. He obtained an ERC Advanced Investigator grant in 2008. He is Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur since 2005 and Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion since 2012.

 Johannes L. (Hans) Bos, Ph.D.Johannes L. (Hans) Bos, Ph.D., is professor of physiological chemistry at the University Medical Center in Utrecht (Netherlands). Bos started his career in 1975 in the lab of Piet Borst in Amsterdam as a doctoral student working on mitochondrial DNA of yeast. After receiving his doctorate in 1980, he moved to the lab of Alex van der Eb in Leiden, and worked on the characterization of the E1A region of the oncogenic adenovirus 12. In 1984, he started to work on Ras mutations in human tumors. After a sabbatical year in San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. Frank McCormick, he moved to Utrecht in 1991 to become professor in physiological chemistry and to work on the function of the Ras protein in oncogenic transformation. In 1995 he started to work on the small GTPase Rap1, which is still the main topic in the lab. Major breakthroughs were the discovery of the cAMP-regulated Epac protein in 1998 and the discovery of the essential role of Rap1 in integrin-mediated cell adhesion in 2000 and in E-cadherin-mediated cell junction formation in 2004. More recent highlights are the elucidation of the crystal structure of Epac. Currently, the main focus is on the spatio-temporal control of the Epac-Rap1 module in cell adhesion and the downstream molecular effects.

Bos is currently head of the Department Molecular Cancer Research and chairperson of the Division Biomedical Genetics of the University Medical Center Utrecht. He is director of the PhD and Master's Program, Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology; director of the Cancer Genomics Centre of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative; and director of the Centre for Biomedical Genetics. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Immunogenomics to Create New Therapies for High-Risk Childhood Cancer

Dream Team Leader:
John M. Maris, M.D., director, the Center for Childhood Cancer Research, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Crystal L. Mackall, M.D., chief, Pediatric Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute (NCI)


John M. Maris, M.D.John M. Maris, M.D., is Giulio D’Angio chair in neuroblastoma research and professor of pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He currently serves as director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Maris completed his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and performed all of his postdoctoral training in pediatric hematology/oncology and genetics at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Maris’ group has discovered the majority of the genes that influence susceptibility to human neuroblastoma using both traditional family-based linkage approaches and genome wide-association approaches. In parallel, his group has identified many of the oncogenic drivers of the disease. Together, this work has resulted in the implementation of new genomic biomarkers of outcome that are now routinely used in the clinic, and several early-phase clinical trials of new targeted therapeutics. Maris has led large collaborative research efforts focused on translational oncology, most recently a genomic dissection of more than 300 high-risk neuroblastoma cases using next-generation sequencing technologies, resulting in an unprecedented detailed characterization of the hereditary and somatic neuroblastoma genomes.

Maris has published more than 220 peer-reviewed manuscripts and dozens of book chapters and review articles. He is recognized as a leading expert in the field of pediatric oncology and serves on several scientific advisory boards and committees, including for the National Cancer Institute, the American Association for Cancer Research, Genome Canada and many private foundations. Maris has received several prestigious awards, including election into the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Oski award for outstanding pediatric oncologists, the Berwick award at the University of Pennsylvania for melding basic and clinical teaching, and the William Osler Patient-Oriented Research Award at the University of Pennsylvania.

Crystal L. Mackall, M.D.Crystal L. Mackall, M.D., is chief of the pediatric oncology branch and head of the immunology section of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). 

Mackall graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron in Ohio and received her medical degree from Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine in Rootstown. After completing clinical training in pediatrics and internal medicine, she undertook subspecialty training in pediatric hematology/oncology at the NCI. There, she made pioneering discoveries regarding thymic function in humans and received international recognition for her work on immune reconstitution. Since 1998, she has led a cutting-edge clinical-translational research program focused on developing new immune-based therapies for childhood cancer. Mackall is credited with discovering an essential role for interleukin-7 in T-cell homeostasis and has led the clinical development of recombinant human interleukin-7, a novel immunorestorative agent. Her program also conducts translational studies of tumor vaccines, immunomodulators, experimental bone marrow transplantation and cell-based therapy for childhood cancer.

Mackall has published more than 130 manuscripts and numerous book chapters on immunology and immunotherapy. She serves as editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Pediatric Oncology and associate editor of Blood. She is chair of the Scientific Subcommittee on Immunology and Host Defense for the American Society of Hematology and serves on numerous advisory boards. Mackall is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and has been recognized with several NCI Director’s Awards for her achievements. In addition to her scientific research, Mackall is internationally recognized as an expert in the treatment of pediatric sarcomas and has been recognized annually since 2006 as a Best Doctor in America. She is board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics and pediatric hematology-oncology.


Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade and Adoptive Cell Transfer in Cancer Therapy


Dream Team Leaders
James P. Allison, Ph.D., chairman in the department of immunology, director of the immunotherapy platform and co-director of the David H. Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, surgery and molecular and medical pharmacology; director of the tumor immunology program area at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, Los Angeles

Dream Team Co-leaders
Drew M. Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., director of the division of immunology and Abeloff professor in the departments of oncology, medicine, pathology and molecular biology and genetics at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.
Cassian Yee, M.D., member of the Clinical Research Division and Program in Immunology at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an attending physician at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle, Wash.


James P. Allison, Ph.D.James P. Allison, Ph.D., is professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 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 former Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Allison earned his doctorate at The University of Texas, 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.

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. 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. Allison is exploring combinations of immunological therapies and targeted drugs in preclinical studies to more effectively treat a variety of cancers.

Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D.Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor with a double appointment in medicine (hematology-oncology) and surgery (surgical oncology) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is also an assistant director for clinical programs at the UCLA Human Gene Medicine Program, director of the JCCC Cell and Gene Therapy Core Facility, General Clinical Research Center Advisory Board Member and faculty advisor to the UCLA Residency Program.

Ribas trained at the University of Barcelona in Spain, and has undergone postdoctoral training at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego and at UCLA. He joined the UCLA Hematology-Oncology Fellowship program and has been a faculty member since July of 2001.

Ribas and his colleagues are conducting studies aimed at understanding how the immune system can be effectively used to treat cancer. The work is focused on the ability to activate killer immune cells specifically targeted to the cancer. One line of research is the use of dendritic cells engineered to express tumor antigens, which have been shown to induce powerful responses against cancer. This approach has been taken from preclinical studies in mice to a phase I clinical trial for the treatment of patients with malignant melanoma. Assays with defined performance specifications determined in detailed methodology studies are being used for the immune monitoring of the human clinical trials. Another line of research is the stimulation of innate responses to tumors. Dendritic cells are very powerful in activating natural killer cells that lead to tumor regressions, and the immunobiology of these responses are being studied. Additional interests of the laboratory are the use of interventions that modify the regulation of tumor-specific lymphocytes, and the pharmacological modulation of the interaction between the lytic immune cells (cytotoxic T lymphocytes or natural killer cells) with the cancer cells, with the goal of further increasing their antitumor potential.

Drew M. Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D.Drew M. Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., is an Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. He is director of the Cancer Immunology in the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. 
Pardoll completed his medical and doctorate degrees, and medical residency and oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. 

Pardoll has published over 250 papers as well as over 20 book chapters on the subject of T cell immunology and cancer vaccines. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Cell, and has served as a member of  scientific advisory boards for the Cancer Research Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Human Gene Therapy Gene Institute, Biologic Resources Branch of the National Cancer Institute, Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Center, Cerus Corporation, Global Medical Products Corporation, Genencor Corporation, CellGenesys Corporation, Mojave Therapeutics, the American Association of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research. 

Pardoll has made a number of basic advances in cellular immunology, including the discovery of gamma - delta T cells, NKT cells and interferon-producing killer dendritic cells. Over the past two decades, he has studied molecular aspects of dendritic cell biology and immune regulation, particularly related to mechanisms by which cancer cells evade elimination by the immune system. He is an inventor of a number of immunotherapies, including GVAX cancer vaccines and Listeria monocytogenes based cancer vaccines. Pardoll’s basic immunology discoveries include the identification of γδ-T cells, NKT cells and IKDC. He elucidated the role of Stat3 signaling in tumor immune evasion and in Th17 development, leading to the discovery that Stat3-driven Th17 responses promote carcinogenesis. Pardoll discovered one of the two ligands for the PD-1 inhibitory receptor and leads the Hopkins cancer immunology program that developed PD-1 pathway-targeted antibodies, demonstrating their clinical activity in multiple cancer types. His more than 250 articles cover cancer vaccines, gene therapies, cancer prevention technologies, recombinant immune modulatory agents for specific pathways that regulate immunity to cancer and infectious diseases.

Cassian Yee, M.D. Cassian Yee, M.D., is a member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Wash.

Yee is developing a technique for treating cancer called adoptive T-cell therapy, which involves infusing a patient with immune cells that can recognize tumor cells and trigger the immune system to attack the cancer. His research focuses on using T-cell therapy to treat malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Yee was one of the first to apply this type of immunotherapy to a solid tumor cancer, and in 2008, his team described the first successful use of a patient’s own T-cells as the sole therapy to put advanced melanoma into long-term remission. Recently, he demonstrated for the first time that human T cells can become long-lasting memory cells after infusion and, when combined with an immune boosting antibody, halt tumor growth in patients with metastatic disease. He is also applying this strategy to treat patients with sarcoma, ovarian cancer and gastrointestinal cancers, which are generally incurable in its advanced stages.

Yee received his medical degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada, trained as a research fellow at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, completed a residency at Stanford University, and then a fellowship and postdoctoral research program in medical oncology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

In addition to his laboratory work, Yee treats melanoma patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the Hutchinson Center’s treatment arm. His goal is to move promising laboratory research into clinical trials and from there to patients in the clinical setting.

Yee was a recipient of the Cancer Research Institute Investigator Award and the Damon Runyon Walter Winchell Clinical Investigator Award. He was also a Burroughs Wellcome Fellow and Scientist in Translational Research and was elected a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Targeting Adaptive Pathways in Treatment-Resistant Prostate Cancer

Dream Team Leader:
Eric J. Small, M.D., professor of medicine; chief, division of hematology/oncology, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); deputy director, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Owen N. Witte, M.D., investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; distinguished professor, microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics; director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Eric J. Small, M.D.Eric J. Small, M.D., is professor of medicine and urology and chief of the division of hematology and oncology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is also deputy director and director of clinical sciences in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Small has served on the NCI Prostate Cancer Progress Review Group, and is associate editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, where he is responsible for genitourinary oncology. He served as the scientific program committee chair of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in 2004. Additionally, he was a co-founder, and subsequently chaired the First Annual Multidisciplinary Clinical Prostate Cancer Symposium, jointly co-sponsored by ASCO, ASTRO, the SUO and the PCF, which has since evolved into the Multidisciplinary Genitourinary Oncology Symposium. Small has served as chair of the Genitourinary Committee of the alliance (formerly the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, CALGB), a NCI Cooperative Group since 2000.

Small has contributed a significant body of work to the understanding of advanced prostate cancer, with themes involving the transition from hormone-sensitive to treatment-resistant prostate cancer (TRPC), the development of androgen receptor-directed therapies, the development of risk assessment tools for patients with advanced prostate cancer, and prostate cancer immunotherapy. Small was directly involved in the FDA approval of three agents relevant to prostate cancer (from first-in-man studies, to completed phase III trials and FDA approval): sipuleucel T, abiraterone and ipilimumab — approved for melanoma.

Owen N. Witte, M.D.Owen N. Witte, M.D., received his undergraduate degree from Cornell and his medical degree from Stanford University. He completed postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he presently is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; distinguished professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, where he holds the president’s chair in developmental immunology; and distinguished professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is the director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

His work has concentrated on connecting discoveries in basic science to new therapeutic advances in cancer therapy. Witte has made significant contributions to the understanding of human leukemias, immune disorders and epithelial cancer stem cells. His work includes the discovery of tyrosine kinase activity for the ABL gene and the demonstration of the BCR-ABL oncoproteins in human leukemias. This has had practical impact in leading to the development of kinase-targeted therapy as an effective treatment for these leukemias and other cancers. His work also led to the co-discovery of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, which is required for normal B-lymphocyte development, and when mutated leads to X-linked agammagloblulinemia, a form of immune deficiency. This has led to new targeted therapy for a class of B cell lymphomas. Recent work has concentrated on defining the stem cells for epithelial cancers of the prostate and other organ sites to help define new types of therapy for these diseases. This work has led to new monoclonal antibody therapies for prostate and other epithelial cancers now in late-stage clinical trials. His work utilizes advanced whole-body imaging techniques like positron emission tomography (PET) to monitor cancer growth and cellular immune functions.

Witte is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He has received recognition for his research including the Milken Foundation Award in Basic Cancer Research, the Rosenthal Award of the American Association for Cancer Research, the Dameshek Prize of the American Society of Hematology, the Alpert Foundation Prize, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society de Villiers International Achievement Award, the UCLA Faculty Research Lecture and the Nakahara Memorial Lecture Prize. He currently serves on several editorial and advisory boards. Witte was elected to the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research in 2010, and was recently appointed by President Obama to the President’s Cancer Panel.

Precision Therapy of Advanced Prostate Cancer

Dream Team Leader:
Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., S.P. Hicks endowed professor of Pathology, University of Michigan Health System

Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., chair, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D.Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., is a clinical pathologist, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, S.P. Hicks Endowed professor of pathology and professor of urology at the University of Michigan, and an American Cancer Society research professor. He also serves as the inaugural director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology (MCTP) which is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of investigators focused on translating “-Omic” technologies to patient care in terms of biomarkers and novel therapeutics.

He has co-authored more than 250 manuscripts and is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians (AAP), American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). In 2008 he received the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research. In 2007, Dr. Chinnaiyan and his team were the recipients of the inaugural AACR Team Science Award. He has received a number of other prestigious awards including the 2009 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, 2009 Philip Levine Award for Cancer Research, 2007 Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, 2006 Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Award for Clinical Translational Research, 2005 Benjamin Castleman Award, and the 2005 Amgen Outstanding Investigator by the American Society of Investigative Pathology.

Dr. Chinnaiyan received his undergraduate degree and M.D.-Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan. He carried out his graduate work under the mentorship of Dr. Vishva Dixit. After completing his M.D.-Ph.D. training, Dr. Chinnaiyan pursued residency training in clinical pathology and subsequent board certification. He went on to establish his own independent lab without formal postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan.

The Chinnaiyan laboratory has focused on functional genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and bioinformatics approaches to study cancer for the purposes of understanding tumor biology as well as to discover clinical biomarkers. The landmark study thus far from Dr. Chinnaiyan’s laboratory is the finding of recurrent gene fusions in prostate cancer, which potentially redefines the molecular basis of this disease as well as other common epithelial cancers. The team involved with these studies was awarded the 2007 AACR Team Science Award. The Chinnaiyan lab is focused on translating the prostate cancer gene fusion discovery into better diagnostics and therapies for prostate cancer. His laboratory is also currently using an arsenal of “-Omics” based approaches, including next generation transcriptome sequencing, to decipher the underpinnings of breast cancer, prostate cancer and other common epithelial tumors. His laboratory developed the popular cancer profiling bioinformatics resource called Oncomine ( which is freely available to the academic community (hosting more than 15,000 registered users from more than 30 countries). He is a co-founder of Compendia Biosciences, which supports both the academic and commercial versions of Oncomine. In 2011, MCTP initiated an exploratory clinical sequencing initiative at the UMCCC, called MI-ONCOSEQ, which is attempting to evaluate the potential of high-throughput sequencing in personalized oncology.


Charles L. Sawyers, M.D.Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., is a medical oncologist, investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and director of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Dr. Sawyers’ career has focused on developing molecularly targeted therapies and played a key role in the development of imatinib and dasatinib for the treatment of CML for which he was a co-recipient of the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. More recently, Dr. Sawyers has focused his effort on targeting AR in prostate cancer. A drug that he co-developed, MDV3100, is an AR antagonist which completed phase III clinical trials in men with CRPC and demonstrated prolongation of survival (51, 54). He is also co-developer of the next AR antagonist, ARN509 (Aragon).

Dr. Sawyers received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences. In addition to the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, Dr. Sawyers has received numerous other awards including a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the American Association for Cancer Research David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Dorothy P. Landon–AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research and the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He recently served as co-chair of the NAS report on precision medicine.

In 1988, while a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Owen Witte at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Sawyers began his work with Gleevec. Building on the development of Gleevec as a model, Dr. Sawyers contributed to the design of a new cancer drug called Sprycel (dasatinib), which overcomes resistance to Gleevec in some patients. His approach combines genetic studies of patients' DNA with structural biology data. Collaborating with structural biologists, Dr. Sawyers and his team perform genetic studies involving the sequencing of each patient's resistance-enhancing mutation to understand how a drug responds to each mutation as it develops. Currently his team is focusing on developing new treatments for patients with prostate cancer who have developed androgen resistance. 

Dr. Sawyers will serve as the Dream Team Co-Leader, be a member of the Executive Committee, perform work on the Pre-Clinical Models Team and serve as a member of the MSKCC Clinical Trials Sub-Team.

Personalized Medicine for Patients With BRAF Wild-Type (BRAFwt) Cancer

Dream Team Leader:
Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D., F.A.C.M.G., president and research director, The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)


Patricia LoRusso, D.O., director, Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics; principal investigator, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute’s NCI-UO1-funded phase I program; and professor of medicine, Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine

Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D., F.A.C.M.G., is a recognized expert in the area of human cancer genetics. He has held numerous faculty appointments including at the University of Arizona, the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University. He is a diplomat of the American College of Medical Genetics, and is a member of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research, and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Human Genetics and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Trent is the author of more than 300 manuscripts in the medical literature, has received numerous honors and awards, and has served on the editorial boards of over a dozen medical journals.

Trent previously served as director of the Division of Intramural Research of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Under his guidance from 1993 to 2002, the division became an internationally recognized research center in the field of human genetics. Following his tenure at the NIH, Trent became the founding president and research director of The Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Ariz., a position he holds today.



Patricia LoRusso, D.O. Patricia LoRusso, D.O., graduated from Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1981. After residency, she completed a fellowship in medical oncology in December of 1988, with a focus on developmental therapeutics. She joined the faculty at Wayne State University School of Medicine in January of 1989. As a result of her focus on early therapeutics, she has come to be recognized as an international expert in the field of phase I clinical research with a focus on novel trial design.

LoRusso currently serves as co-chair of the NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) Investigational Drug Steering Committee. She has also served on the scientific committee of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the education and scientific committees of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and has served as a member on several NCI and other peer-reviewed granting committees. For several years she has served on the faculty of AACR-supported clinical trials workshops including the Vail and Flims courses.

Last year, LoRusso was awarded the American College of Osteopathic Internists Researcher of the Year Award. She was awarded the Hero of Breast Cancer award in 2009. In 2008, she was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business Health Care Heroes, was recognized with the 2008 Michaele C. Christian Oncology Drug Development Award and Lectureship from NCI CTEP, and received the Marygrove College Distinguished Alumni Award. LoRusso was also awarded the Bennett J. Cohen Educational Leadership Award for Medical Research in 2004.  


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