The Sentinel


Thursday, December 21, 2017

President's Message - December 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The past year has been one of significant scientific progress for the field of cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology. Among the highlights:
  • Pembrolizumab received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treating patients with MSI-H/dMMR-positive solid tumors, marking the first ever “tissue-agnostic” designation for any cancer therapeutic, defining disease based on biomarker status rather than tissue location
  • CAR T cell therapies obtained initial FDA approvals for treating both DLBCL and B-ALL following very positive clinical trial results
  • Cancer immunotherapies also continued to gain new indications by obtaining initial FDA approvals in hepatocellular carcinoma (nivolumab), Merkel Cell Carcinoma (avelumab), and gastric/GEJ cancers (pembrolizumab)
  • Multiple cancer immunotherapeutics including nivolumab, pembrolizumab, durvalumab, avelumab, and atezolizumab became options for treating patients with bladder cancer

As we look ahead to 2018, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) will continue to create opportunities for collaboration and scientific exchange for our growing membership base and beyond. Today, I’d like to single out two inter-connected workshops SITC has planned for May 2018 on biomarkers and cancer immune responsiveness.

Ten years after its inception, the SITC Immune Biomarkers Task Force will lead a two-day workshop to discuss critical next steps in biomarker science and assay development. Session topics will include best practices and validation; biomarker identification; data and specimen sharing and much more.

SITC’s newly-formed Cancer Immune Responsiveness Task Force will host a two-day workshop on topics that include tumor evolution in the immune competent host and the resulting immune landscape; identification of common pathways that should be targeted to understand and increase immunogenicity among silent or “cold” cancers and more.

The Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs – which will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. in 2018 due to continued growth and excitement – will always be our society’s hallmark event. SITC hosts interim programs throughout the year to provide focused opportunities to move new developments and initiatives forward for improving cancer patient outcomes through the advancement of science and clinical application of cancer immunotherapy.

Both of the workshops mentioned will be open to the public. Stay tuned to SITC in the New Year for additional event information, including dates and location.


Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD

SITC President

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Get to Know Sentinel Author: Desmond Omane Acheampong, PhD, MSc, BSc


Name: Desmond Omane Acheampong, PhD, MSc, BSc

Title: Senior Lecturer

Employer: Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.

When and why did you become a SITC member?

I became a member of SITC on 20th July, 2017. My motivation was to get the opportunity to share and acquire knowledge with scientists with similar research focus.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Get to Know Sentinel Author: Nils Rudqvist, PhD

Name: Nils Rudqvist

Title: PhD

Employer: Weill Cornell Medicine

When and why did you become a SITC member?

I became a SITC member in 2016 when I joined the laboratory of Sandra Demaria at Weill Cornell Medicine. My background is in radiation physics/biology, so immunology was quite new to me. One main reason for me to join SITC was to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to become a successful investigator in the field of immuno-oncology.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Get to Know Sentinel Author: Aliyah Weinstein

Name: Aliyah Weinstein

Title: Graduate Student Researcher

Employer: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

When and why did you become a SITC member?

I’ve been a SITC member since this summer, though I previously attended some satellite events organized by the society. As I am thinking ahead to a career in the field of cancer immunotherapy, it only made sense to join SITC to establish a stronger connection with the field and grow my network.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Get to Know Sentinel Author: Saman Maleki, PhD

Name: Saman Maleki, PhD

Title: Research Associate

Employer: Lawson Health Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada

When and why did you become a SITC member?

I become a SITC member last year after I found out about all the great educational work SITC has been doing on the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Can you briefly explain the work you are doing in the field?

I am involved in several translational immunotherapy projects. We are studying the neoantigens in tumors and how it shapes the anti-tumor immune response. We are also studying indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and its effect on immunotherapy and conventional therapy. I am also involved in pre-clinical IND-enabling studies of several novel oncology drugs including a few immuno-oncology agents.