Silvia Chiara Formenti, MD

Silvia Chiara Formenti, MD

Chair and Radiation Oncologist-in-Chief
Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York

Dr. Formenti has devoted her career to translating novel preclinical information to the clinic. She trained as a medical and radiation oncologist and initially focused on combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy in locally advanced breast cancer. This work has evolved to study the systemic effects of radiotherapy, particularly on the immune system. Her lab originally demonstrated that the abscopal effect (a therapeutic effect outside the radiation field) of radiotherapy is immune-mediated and has opened a fertile field of research to understand the immune-stimulatory and immune-suppressive effects of ionizing radiation and to develop strategies directed at harnessing antitumor immunity in irradiated subjects. Her lab has translated preclinical evidence in the first proof of principle clinical trial combining radiation with GM-CSF. They then demonstrated in mouse models that radiotherapy converts tumors refractory to anti-CTLA-4 antibody-treatment into responsive ones by eliciting anti-tumor CD8 T cells that mediate systemic tumor regression. This preclinical evidence on the antigenicity of ionizing radiation was validated in a clinical trial combining ipilimumab with radiotherapy in metastatic NSCLC.