The Sentinel


Monday, September 16, 2019

President's Message - September 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I’d like to begin this month’s President’s Message honoring Stan Collender (1951-2019). Stan, an immunotherapy pioneer and advocate, was a cancer patient of past SITC President Michael B. Atkins, MD. Dr. Atkins first met Stan in 2012 when he presented with Merkel Cell Carcinoma. From there, they developed a close relationship as Stan courageously fought his disease with immunotherapy for many years. Their experience and efforts together taught us much about the impact and limitations of immunotherapy. Read more about Stan’s life and contributions to our field in the heartfelt memorial posted by Dr. Atkins to The Sentinel, SITC’s official blog.

As you know, breakthroughs in research and the advent of new cancer immunotherapy treatments this century spurred an explosion of interest and investment in our field. Through offerings like the Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) brings together the most accomplished and innovative researchers in the field to spark new collaborations and force consideration of new ideas that prompt discovery of new targets and approaches.

While the SITC Annual Meeting is perhaps our most important and visible effort to advance science and improve patient outcomes, many other SITC activities contribute to our core mission. SITC’s Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy™ (ACI) regional education series is an example of how SITC leverages its member’s clinical and science expertise to inform patient care, particularly safe and effective treatment administration. At the other end of the spectrum of SITC programs, the society seeks to expand research and knowledge in our field through the professional development of early career scientists. Young investigators are the future of cancer immunotherapy research. SITC is investing in their future through a variety of programs that provide education and professional development and promote community and collaboration.

One of our most effective programs aimed at young investigators is the SITC Meet-the-Experts – an annual luncheon at the SITC Annual Meeting (Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, at 12:05 p.m.) organized by the Early Career Scientist Committee that connects young investigators with leaders in the field. It has now grown to a year-round initiative featuring regular, free webinars. These online events focus on various topics that are pertinent to an early career scientist’s professional development. Most recently, Tullia Bruno, PhD (University of Pittsburgh), moderated our Aug. 22 webinar focused on Careers in Science Away from the Bench, which you can view on-demand here.

SITC will once again host a Cancer Immunotherapy Winter School on Jan. 13-17, 2020, at the Hilton Houston Post Oak in Houston, Texas. Led by program organizers Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD (Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy/University of California San Francisco), and Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD (UPMC Hillman Cancer Center), this program provides intensive instruction on the core principles of tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. These programs also foster connections among peers which is critical component to their future success.

SITC also strengthens the support network for young scientists through the Professional Interest Communities. These digital discussion forums connect individuals of similar professional and personal backgrounds to share career development needs, address professional hurdles and more.

Beyond the basic education and professional development offered by SITC, SITC Fellowships provide funding to support the early careers of the most talented scientists. Supported through the Forward Fund, SITC has awarded more than $2 million in Fellowship Awards since 2014. Stay tuned later this year for information about 2020 SITC Fellowships.

SITC offers an affordable membership rate of $50 for students and scientists-in-training. Joining our society provides discounted access to vital SITC in-person programs and reduced fees on articles accepted to the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC). It also places young investigators in a professional network of the most influential basic scientists, translational researchers and clinicians in the field. Click here to become a SITC member and join the world’s leading organization dedicated solely to cancer immunotherapy research.

Finally, I would like to recognize and thank the countless number of women who organized, facilitated and attended SITC’s Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network Leadership Institute in Seattle last month. This exciting new program from SITC, championed by immediate Past President Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD, was a rousing success. I look forward to seeing our society continue its effort to support, advance and celebrate the success of women in our field.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President

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