Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation
Chief of Immuno-oncology Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York
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. To learn more, please visit the press release.