Dr. Elizabeth M. Jaffee is an international leader in the development of immune based therapies for pancreatic and breast cancers. In 1981, she graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University before receiving her medical degree from New York Medical College. From 1985-1988 she completed her medical residency at Presbyterian-University Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and subsequently received a National Institutes of Health Research Training Grant as a research fellow and principal investigator at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Jaffee came to the Johns Hopkins University in 1989 as Senior Clinical Oncology Fellow. In 1992, she joined the faculty as assistant professor of oncology.
Since her arrival at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Jaffee has become a renowned oncology researcher and co-director of both the Cancer Immunology Program and the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program. She also established Cell Processing and Gene Therapy cGMP Facility. She is the first recipient of the Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli Professorship in Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, and also holds a professorship in pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2015, Dr. Jaffee was appointed deputy director of the Kimmel Cancer Center. Dr. Jaffee is also the co-director of the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer Clinical Research and Patient Care. In 2007, she was appointed deputy director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and has also served as chair of the Clinical Research Committee at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Jaffee’s research is focused on the development of novel vaccine approaches that overcome immune tolerance to cancers, and she currently holds six vaccine patents. Dr. Jaffee has completed multiple studies testing an allogeneic tumor vaccine in patients with pancreatic cancer who were eligible for complete surgical resection of their tumors, but whose cancers are still expected to recur at rates as high as 80 percent one year following surgery. Dr. Jaffee’s first study demonstrated the safety of the vaccine and identified a dose that appears to demonstrate immune activation associated with improved disease-free survival in this patient population. These trials have also allowed Dr. Jaffee to develop both genomic and proteomic methods for identifying new pathways and biomarkers associated with the development and progression of pancreatic cancers. As an example, Dr. Jaffee recently identified the protein Annexin A2 that appears to be overexpressed in pancreatic cancers. Her group has shown that this protein changes location in the pancreatic cancer cell when compared with normal pancreatic tissue cells. This change in location gives the cancer cell the ability to spread from the pancreas to the liver and other organs. In animal models, Dr. Jaffee has shown that the inhibition of this new protein’s expression results in the prevention of pancreatic cancer spread. She is currently developing a therapy that targets this protein and plans on testing this in patients in the future.
In addition to many JHU administrative committee appointments, her professional society memberships include the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association of Immunologists, and the Society of Immunotherapy for Cancer. Dr. Jaffee also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Philadelphia, 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.