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Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, Honored With 2020 AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is recognizing Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, with the 2020 AACR-Joseph Burchenal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research.

Wolchok is the Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation and chief of Immuno-Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). He also serves as director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MSK, associate director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, and professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Wolchok is being recognized for his leadership in the groundbreaking clinical development of CTLA-4 antibody therapy for melanoma and for his pivotal role in ushering in the field of checkpoint inhibitor therapies for cancer.

The AACR and Bristol-Myers Squibb established this award in 1996 to recognize outstanding achievements in clinical cancer research. The award honors Dr. Joseph H. Burchenal, honorary member and Past President of the AACR, and a major figure in clinical cancer research.

Wolchok is internationally recognized for his seminal role in developing ipilimumab (Yervoy), an anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody that promotes the release of cancer-fighting T cells in the body. Wolchok led the pivotal phase III clinical trial demonstrating that treatment with ipilimumab and the chemotherapeutic dacarbazine yields superior overall survival in patients with metastatic melanoma compared with dacarbazine treatment alone. Through his work with ipilimumab, Wolchok discovered differences in the kinetics of clinical tumor responses to immunotherapy and chemotherapy, which prompted him and his team to develop new criteria for evaluating treatment responses to immunotherapy. These criteria are now standard practice for immunotherapy trials. After determining that ipilimumab is capable of promoting tumor regression in 20 percent of melanoma patients, Wolchok began designing and conducting clinical trials testing immunotherapy combinations, including the combination of ipilimumab and the PD-1 monoclonal antibody nivolumab (Opdivo), which was subsequently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for advanced melanoma in 2015.

Wolchok continues to drive progress in the field of immunotherapy for cancer. He serves as the principal investigator on numerous ongoing clinical trials testing innovative ways to harness the immune system to treat cancer. In 2011, Wolchok founded the Immunotherapeutics Clinical Core at MSK, a program focused on novel immunotherapy phase I-II clinical trials expanding beyond melanoma.

Wolchok joined the AACR in 1997. He has served the AACR in many capacities, including as a member of the AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology Committee, Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research Committee, AACR NextGen Transformative Grants Scientific Review Committee, AACR Clinical Trials Committee, AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, and cochair of the AACR Annual Meeting Program Committee. Additionally, Wolchok is a past chair of the Cancer Immunology Working Group. He has served as the institutional principal of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Immunotherapy Dream Team and co-leader of the SU2C-American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Dream Team. The AACR is the Scientific Partner of SU2C. The AACR has previously honored Wolchok with the AACR-Richard & Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award (2014) and the Aventis-AACR Scholars in Cancer Research Award (2000). Wolchok currently serves as deputy editor of the AACR journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Wolchok has received many honors throughout his career, including the Huntsman Cancer Institute Susan Cooper Jones Lectureship (2019), the RCCS Monsey Medical Devotion Award (2017), the Society of Surgical Oncology James Ewing Lecturer Award (2017), the TAT Honorary Award (2017), the SU2C Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Award (2016), the A. Alfred Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research (2016), the Alumni Achievement Award in Clinical and Translational Science from New York University (2016), the Dr. Melvin L. and Dr. Sylvia F. Griem Lectureship & Award (2015), the AICF Prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine (2014), the Giants of Cancer Care in Melanoma Award (2014), the Puccini Foundation Shared Cancers Shared Cures Visionary Award (2013), and the Hematology/Oncology Housestaff and Fellows Award (2013).

Wolchok was named Doctor of the Year by the Melanoma International Foundation in 2012 and received the Humanitarian Award from the Melanoma Research Foundation in 2010. Other awards include the Keystone Symposium Poster Contest Winner (2006), the Julia Zelmanovich Young Alumni Award (2004), the Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator Award (2003), the ASCO Merit Award (2000), the Mayo Clinic Fellows’ Research Award (1999), the Clinical Scholars Research Award from MSKCC (1998), the Houghton‐Coit Fellowship (1997), and the Friedland Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine (1994). He was a Merck Scholar (1993), and a Colton Scholar (1992). Wolchok is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and a member of both the American Association of Immunologists and the American Association of Physicians.

Wolchok received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, his master’s and doctorate from New York University, and his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He completed his residency at New York University Medical Center and his Medical Oncology-Hematology Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.