The Sentinel


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

President's Message - October 2018

Dear Colleagues,

On Oct. 3, I was thrilled to hear the news that my friend and colleague, James P. Allison, PhD, was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD. As most of you know, Dr. Allison and Prof. Honjo (also both SITC Smalley Award recipients) are pioneers in the field of immune checkpoint blockade therapy, which has become a foundational component of cancer treatment across the globe. What a wonderful acknowledgement of the impact in our field to patients, and for the contributions of these two scientific world leaders.

Here in Pittsburgh, the sky is a bit grey, there is a cool breeze, and the trees are starting to change color. This can mean only one thing: the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) 33rd Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2018) are coming soon!

Our society’s Annual Meeting is the perfect gathering place for early career scientists. This fall, SITC will give out 33 young investigator awards – four presidential and 29 abstract travel awards – honoring some of the brightest young minds in the field. This year’s recipients are below. At SITC 2018, in addition to the Workshop on Nutrition, Metabolism and the Microbiome in Cancer Therapy, there will be great opportunities for abstract author networking during poster hall presentations on Nov. 9 and 10, or in small group discussions during the Meet-the-Expert Lunch and Grant Writing Workshop. The Meet-the-Expert Lunch connects young investigators to leaders in cancer immunotherapy to discuss topics most relevant to their careers. SITC is expanding this in-person program into a series of webinars throughout the year. SITC will host the first webinar on “How to Survive in Academia.”

The young investigators of SITC Sparkathon Class of 2017, Teams TimIOs and METIOR Incubator, are preparing to present their project updates during the 33rd Annual Meeting. I was happy to kick off proceedings for the 28 young investigators of SITC Sparkathon Class of 2018 during their retreat in Chicago, Sept. 12-14, 2018. The winning project from these early career scientists will be announced soon. Learn more about the 2018 Class’s project in The Node, a SITC booth dedicated to early career scientists during the 33rd Annual meeting. You can support the SITC Sparkathon through a contribution to the Forward Fund.

Also upcoming, SITC will host a co-sponsored workshop with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Immune-modified Response Criteria in Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trials. This free, innovative workshop, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, prior to the 33rd Annual Meeting, is another step forward for SITC as we positively leverage relationships with organizations and governmental agencies to incite progress in the field. More details on this workshop are provided further below.

I am excited about a new education program from SITC early next year. The SITC Winter School, scheduled for Feb. 18-22, 2019, in Mesa, Ariz. This five-day program will teach core principles of the field and focus on multiple topics including biomarker technology, clinical trial design, grant writing and have discussion sessions. Click here to learn more about this important program and register.

In August, SITC launched a new series of online communities created exclusively for SITC members. These SITC Professional Interest Communities, including clinical and post-doctoral trainees, graduate students and international young investigators, allow members to discuss topics relevant to their research and in their careers, to build relationships with colleagues and solve hurdles in the field. Click here to learn more about the SITC Professional Interest Communities.

With all of these opportunities for young investigators, the future of the field is in a good place.


Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD
SITC President

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