The Sentinel

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

Thursday, February 6, 2020

President's Message - February 2020

Dear Colleagues,

One of the most important priorities for SITC and for our field is to support and train early career investigators. In 2020, we are offering six SITC Fellowships and a new, unique award, totaling $600,000 in funding.

The six fellowships are possible thanks to the strong financial commitment of our industry partners. We are again able to honor the memory of one of our members, Holbrook Kohrt, MD, PhD, via the Cancer Immunotherapy Translational Memorial Fellowship. This year’s award is the third such fellowship in remembrance of Dr. Kohrt, an assistant professor at Stanford University, known for his commitment to discover and develop novel therapies to enhance anti-tumor immunity. You can read our society’s tribute and view photos from our 2016 dedication ceremony here. For a complete listing of the available 2020 SITC Fellowships, please click here or continue reading this edition of the Immune Monitor. Applications are now open and due by Feb. 28.

SITC will also offer an additional award opportunity, the SITC-NanoString Technologies Spatial Profiling Award. This new research award will be given to a young investigator who will leverage NanoString Technologies’ GeoMx™ Digital Spatial Profiler (DSP) to perform highly multiplexed spatial profiling of RNA and proteins. Click here to learn more and apply to this award (also with a Feb. 28 deadline).

In 2020, SITC will be holding its 35th Anniversary Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (Nov. 10–14 in National Harbor, Md.). As the field and our meeting has grown, so has the need for several more focused meetings throughout the year on key emerging areas of interest and importance. We’ve seen remarkable advances in tumor-targeted immunotherapy technology including CAR-T cells and antibody-drug conjugates and anticipate that identifying additional tumor-specific cell surface targets will further enable development of these types of agents. This year we will hold our first meeting on Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting Workshop, taking place April 23–24 in San Diego (click here to register now). The tumor-specific surfaceome workshop will provide opportunities for investigators to present their research and will allow attendees to share their work with fellow experts in the field. Those whose abstracts are not selected for oral presentation will have the opportunity to present their work as a poster. Abstracts for this workshop are due by Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. PST. Click here to submit your abstract. Encore presentations are welcome!

Beyond the science, SITC will be expanding its efforts to promote professional development for its members. Following last year’s successful inaugural event, the society’s Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network (WIN) Leadership Institute returns this summer, and will grow to two programs, one in Seattle (July 13–14) and one in Chicago (Aug. 3–4). Women interested in applying to attend either program are invited to submit an application by March 9 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Finally, I would like to offer well-deserved congratulations to the SITC members, led by SITC Past President Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS, for their recent manuscript, Defining Current Gaps in Quality Measures for Cancer Immunotherapy: Consensus Report from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) 2019 Quality Summit, as published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC). The article addresses optimal application of cancer immunotherapy for patient benefit, and serves as SITC’s initial formal effort to further define and standardize quality delivery of cancer immunotherapy. I look forward to our society’s continued work in this important area.

Sincerely,















Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President

Thursday, January 16, 2020

JITC Letter from the Editor - January 2020


pedro-romero_1__1_.jpgDear JITC Readers,

Welcome to the first JITC Digest of 2020! The past decade has seen cancer immunotherapy advance to an incredible degree, and the pace of innovation is not looking to slow down any time soon. It is an exciting time for the field and for the journal as JITC continues to expand and evolve to serve the community.

To support our continued growth, JITC has partnered with a new publisher, BMJ, which will allow the journal to offer an improved experience for authors, editors, reviewers and readers at all steps during the publication process. You can read more about the transition in a special editorial in the January issue.

Additionally, JITC will now offer two new sections focusing on exciting emerging areas in our field: Immune Cell Therapy and Immune Cell Engineering, edited by Dr. Marcela V Maus, and Oncolytic Immunotherapy, edited by Dr. Howard L Kaufman. We’re thrilled to help usher these important and innovative approaches into more widespread clinical use.

The highlighted papers in this month’s digest truly exemplify the tremendous pace of advancement within the cancer immunotherapy field, especially in the area of immune checkpoints. When the journal was first established in 2013, no agents targeting the programmed death (PD)-1 receptor or its ligand had been approved by the FDA and now checkpoint blockade has become a mainstay in the treatment of numerous malignancies.

Kidney cancer is one such disease for which checkpoint blockade has radically altered the treatment landscape, motivating SITC to update its Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines. You can read the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer consensus statement on immunotherapy for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma by Brian Rini et al. in this issue.

And our understanding of immune checkpoints continues to progress. Almost every aspect in the translational research pipeline is represented in the manuscripts in this month’s digest, including characterization of the tumor microenvironment, pre-clinical validation for two novel checkpoint blockade strategies, and the first retrospective study of the tolerability of anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 therapy in patients with pre-existing or newly diagnosed paraneoplastic syndromes.

With best regards,

Pedro J. Romero, MD
Editor-in-Chief, Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer

To view the entire January 2020 JITC Digest, please click here

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

President's Message - January 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In my December President’s Message, I outlined our society’s future ambitions, focused on six strategic goals through 2021. This month, I’d like to describe some of the programs and initiatives to achieve those strategic goals.

SITC strives to be the most comprehensive and reliable resource for information and education on cancer immunotherapy. One way in which our society serves the greater cancer immunotherapy field is through our open access, peer-reviewed Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC). The quality of research presented in the journal has grown over the years and it is now arguably the top journal focusing on cancer immunotherapy. Given this growth, SITC officially transitioned JITC to a new publisher this month, BMJ, giving JITC the optimal platform to engage readers, authors and the greater field of tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. Learn more in this special editorial from JITC Editor-in-Chief Pedro J. Romero, MD.

SITC is invested in developing the next generation of leaders in tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. To further this mission, we will offer five SITC Fellowship Awards in 2020, providing a total of a half-million dollars in funding opportunities to promising young investigators. The submission period for these funding and award opportunities is Jan. 21–March 2, 2020. Thank you to our industry partners who help make these annual award opportunities possible as we work together to develop the future leaders in the field.

The Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network (WIN) Leadership Institute is another successful leadership development program that will grow in 2020. The 2019 WIN Leadership Institute held this past August hosted more than 60 emerging female leaders in the field. Because of the strong interest and demand for this program, and the overwhelming positive response to the first program, SITC will host two such events in 2020. I’m proud of SITC commitment to the professional development of women in the field, and I thank Immediate Past President Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD, for her role as a champion for the WIN initiative.

SITC’s main goal of improving cancer care and patient outcomes is reliant upon the commitment of time and expertise from our members from around the globe. The SITC Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines are consensus-based clinical practice guidelines, developed by panels of experts, that help inform oncologists on when and how to use immunotherapy and how to manage the associated toxicities. SITC has now published seven different guidelines, including the recently updated consensus statement on renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which appeared in JITC in December. Five additional guidelines are currently under development and scheduled for publication in 2020.

Don’t forget to register for the free SITC webinar focused on the recently published RCC manuscript. Beginning at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 7, this webinar will include an overview of the manuscript, and will review management of immune-related adverse events. Faculty will also be available for a Q&A session.

Also, please consider attending other SITC programs quickly approaching, including the Cancer Immunotherapy Winter School (Jan. 13–17 in Houston; onsite registration is available) and the Interrogating the Tumor-Specific Surfaceome for Immune Targeting workshop (April 23–24 in San Diego). Additionally, online registration is open for our upcoming Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy™ regional education programs in Charlotte, N.C., on Jan. 23, in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 1, in Tucson, Ariz., on March 14, in Tampa, Fla., on March 21 and Seattle on March 28.

There are many other programs, initiatives, educational resources and more that SITC has planned in 2020 (here's a preview). I look forward to an exciting year ahead for our society and our members, and I hope to see you in a future SITC program in 2020.

Sincerely,















Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President