The Sentinel

THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF THE SOCIETY FOR IMMUNOTHERAPY OF CANCER (SITC).

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

President's Message - March 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Last month, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) recognized and celebrated International Day of Women and Girls in Science. With International Women’s Day approaching (March 8), it reminds us of our responsibility and commitment to help advance the careers of women in the cancer immunotherapy field.

As the successor to the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) first female president, Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD, I am privileged to continue and expand our society’s support of women involved with research and development in the laboratory, clinic, industry and all other areas related to immuno-oncology.

Dr. Butterfield championed many causes, programs and initiatives during her tenure as SITC President, including working to ensure the society was recognizing and encouraging professional development for women. This included hosting women’s receptions at the past two SITC Annual Meetings, offering women an opportunity to network, celebrate successes and discuss important topics critical to their advancement.

Through Dr. Butterfield’s continued leadership, and with support from many of our fellow colleagues, SITC will host its first-ever Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network (WIN) Leadership Institute this summer. Scheduled for Aug. 19–20, 2019, in Seattle, the SITC WIN Leadership Institute will provide a forum for attendees to discuss important topics relevant to their advancement, including how to break through the glass ceiling; negotiation tactics; and critical leadership skills. Also of note, the program is free to attend. Women interested in attending this exciting one-and-a-half-day program are encouraged to submit an application by April 15.

SITC is currently recruiting our members to join the Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network Database. This database will contain a repository of leaders in the field of cancer immunotherapy with an interest in serving as subject matter experts for a variety of potential roles, such as presenting data at SITC meetings, conducting article reviews for the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC), serving in organizer roles to plan future meetings and more.

Those interested in being considered for such future opportunities can submit their credentials via the SITC Volunteer Portal, a members-only benefit. If you have questions about the database, please contact Senior Administrative Manager Rosanne Stelpflug.

I, along with all the leadership of SITC, wholeheartedly support the efforts of the WIN. The WIN is a key part of our society’s commitment to developing future female leaders in science and medicine – some who will hopefully follow Dr. Butterfield’s footsteps and serve as SITC President in the future. I’m also sending a reminder that SITC member registration for the 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2019) opens soon – on March 26. Scheduled for Nov. 6–10 in National Harbor, Md., SITC 2019 will take our society to new heights and I look forward to seeing new and familiar faces this fall.

Sincerely,















Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

President's Message - February 2019

Dear Colleagues,

As I enter my second month as President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), I am energized in our society’s efforts to continue our growth and success into this new year. As we set the stage for the future, I wanted to offer a brief history of SITC for those new to the society, to acknowledge and celebrate our past, all made possible by a dedicated (and growing) family of SITC members.

SITC was originally founded in 1984 by 40 charter members as the Society for Biological Therapy (SBT). At the time, enthusiasm for cancer immunotherapy was driven by investigations of early cancer vaccines, interferons, interleukin-2 and other types of immune modulators. Fundamental discoveries in molecular biology and immunology over the ensuing years provided the foundation for advances in cancer immunobiology, and consequently ushered in the modern era of cancer immunotherapy, which includes transforming therapies such as the immune checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T cells. Members of our Society were key drivers of many of these advances, in the lab and the clinic, and through critical roles within industry and government.

I attended my first meeting of the society, then SBT, in approximately 1989, and witnessed the rapid advances in understanding the nature of host anti-tumor immunity over the next decade. Based on a growing body of exciting preclinical data, many agents were brought to clinical trials by dedicated researchers, although with limited clinical success. Nevertheless, members of our society remained steadfast in their efforts to develop highly effective cancer immunotherapies. During the SBT 2002 business meeting, members voted to officially change our name to the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc). This change was enacted so that our name would reflect our emphasis and concentration on cancer while embracing and valuing our expanding member footprint across the globe. We experienced further change in 2010 when members voted to refresh the name to the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, a moniker that captures our focus and expertise.

The field as a whole, and our society more specifically, has come a long way in the past 35 years. Immunotherapy is not only a viable alternative to other treatments, but now in many malignancies, the most important component of treatment for cancer patients. Improved patient response rates and overall outcomes have undoubtedly played a substantial role in our society’s growth and prosperity, particularly in the past seven years. Since 2012, SITC membership has grown more than 300 percent, from 601 members to 2,457 in 2018.



The diversity of our membership has grown over the years and our society adjusted to reflect the change in composition, adding categories of nurses, pharmacists and patient advocates in recent years. In total, SITC maintains eight member categories for professional and personal classification purposes:

  • Regular
  • Affiliate
  • Emeritus
  • Nurse and Advanced Practice Provider
  • Patient
  • Patient Advocate
  • Pharmacist
  • Student and Scientist-in-Training


Historically and to this day, our regular member category is our most popular, growing to more than 1,600 professionals in the field in 2018, including basic and translational scientists and practicing oncologists. I find it interesting that while the number of regular members has increased by nearly 450 in the past three years, the category’s representation within the overall SITC membership body has actually declined by three percent since 2016. All other member categories – save emeritus, which has remained steady, comprising 18 members – have increased during the same timeframe, suggesting our reach and effect on the greater cancer community continues to grow. It is clear, though, that once a regular member joins SITC, they find a home in our society, as our retention rate among this category is a staggering 88 percent.

While we know that access to discounted registration rates at SITC programs remains a valued member benefit, our members repeatedly tell us that the ultimate rewards of a SITC membership are the indispensable professional relationships built through society involvement. These relationships expand professional networks and set the stage for meaningful collaborations that spark the next advances in the field, all with the same goal of improving patient outcomes.

I appreciate each and every one of our society’s members, many who have already renewed their memberships for the balance of 2019. Continue reading this month’s Immune Monitor to learn more about the value of a SITC membership. If you’re not currently a member, I encourage you to consider becoming a part of the SITC family.

Sincerely,















Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

President's Message - January 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I am excited and honored to address you in my first monthly message as President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). I have enjoyed the past two years as SITC’s Vice President, supporting Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD, SITC’s first female president, during her tenure as leader of our society. Thank you, Dr. Butterfield, for setting a foundation for the increased inclusion, development, and celebration of women in cancer immunotherapy. The society appreciates your continued leadership and commitment to the field and our organization!

As I assume this role on the heels of another successful year for SITC – which includes reaching new marks within our membership and a record-breaking 5,000 attendees at our Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs – I am looking forward to helping continue our society’s tremendous growth. During my tenure as President, I will work to sustain SITC’s commitment as the leading member association in cancer immunotherapy. I will also ensure SITC remains the host to the most important meeting in the field, as we provide a platform for the presentation of phase 1 clinical trial data that provide insight into the future of immuno-oncology.

SITC has many exciting programs and initiatives slated for the next 12 months, all of which seek to improve cancer patient outcomes by advancing the science, development and application of cancer immunotherapy. A more complete listing of these initiatives is provided below, and I would like to highlight a few occurring in the near future.

It is critical for SITC to continue its emphasis in growing the next generation of leaders in cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology. This is an area I am keenly focused on and support heavily. To that end, SITC is pleased to continue to offer SITC Fellowship Awards in 2019. Made possible through generous support from our industry partners, SITC Fellowships honor some of the brightest young minds in the field. The development and celebration of young investigators in our field is an important strategic priority of the society and one of my foci as President.

Additionally, registrations are open for SITC’s first Cancer Immunotherapy Winter School. Scheduled for Feb. 18-22 in Mesa, Ariz., this new program, tailored to early career scientists and clinicians as well as those new to the field, will teach the fundamentals of cancer immunotherapy and allow attendees to choose from a variety of tracks that focus on topics most relevant to them. Space is limited so register early! Also, SITC will host its first Meet-the-Expert Webinar on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 12:30 p.m. CST. This hour-long webinar, moderated by Sruthi Ravindranathan, PhD (Emory University), and with participation from presenter Vionnie W.C. Yu, PhD (Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research), will focus on the topic Careers in Industry. Please click here to register for this free online event.

SITC continues its 2018-19 Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy™ (ACI) regional education program series, with events currently confirmed for Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 10 in Houston on Feb. 9 and in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 21. Also, we look forward to hosting two, back-to-back thoughtful and engaging interim workshops, focused on cancer immune responsiveness and resistance; and adoptive cellular therapy. Stay tuned for information regarding location, registration and lodging.

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider joining or renewing your SITC membership in 2019 to enjoy a variety of member benefits, including early access to register for the 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs, scheduled for Nov. 6-10, 2019, in National Harbor, Md.

I am excited to strengthen existing, and build new, relationships with leaders in the field as we work together to continue the growth and success of the society.

Sincerely,















Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President