Targeted Immunotherapy to Revolutionize Cancer Treatment

Date & Time

Wed, 05/14/2014
5:30-7:30 PM


This program is the sixth in a series of 2013-2014 programs with a focus on cancer, particularly as seen through the lens of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies.

From Forbes Magazine Online: Is This How We’ll Cure Cancer?


This event is supported in part by the Leukemia and Lymphoma SocietyLeukemia and Lymphoma Society
And in part by the UCSD Extension Helen Edison Lecture SeriesUCSD Extension Helen Edison Lecture Series


Dr. June discussed the emergence of a new form of targeted immunotherapy to treat cancer, being tested at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which involves using the patient’s own T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that are genetically engineered to attack he cancer. When effective the treatment appears to be curative. Dr. June’s team was the first to use these genetically engineered T cells to treat a young girl with acute leukemia who was no longer responsive to conventional chemotherapy, and as a result she went into a complete remission. As of December, 2013, more than 18 months since her treatment, she remains cancer-free. This type of cell-based, targeted immunotherapy, has become one of the most exciting new approaches to treating cancer, and a number of prominent cancer centers around the country are gearing up to provide this therapy for patients. In addition, Dr. June’s pioneering work has stimulated the biotechnology and pharma industry to become involved in developing the means to deliver this therapy to patients. Dr. June discussed his pioneering work and also the barriers and challenges to bring this paradigm shifting treatment into routine medical practice.


To view a recording of this event, please click here.



Carl June, MD
University of Pennsylvania

Carl June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He is currently Director of Translational Research at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and is an Investigator of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, 1979. He had graduate training in Immunology and malaria with Dr. Paul-Henri Lambert at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland from 1978-79, and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology with Dr. E. Donnell Thomas and Dr. John Hansen at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle from 1983 – 1986. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. He founded the Immune Cell Biology Program and was head of the Department of Immunology at the Naval Medical Research Institute from 1990 to 1995 before joining the faculty of the Perelman School of Medicine in 1999. He maintains a research laboratory that studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation that relate to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer and chronic infection. He has published more than 300 manuscripts and is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine in 2012, the William B Coley award, and the Richard V Smalley Memorial Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer in 2013. In 2014, Dr. June is considered the most influential academic scientist in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Garth Powis, D. Phil, Moderator
Sanford-Burnham National Cancer Institute

Garth Powis is professor and director of Sanford-Burnham’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. He holds the Jeanne and Gary Herberger Leadership Chair in Cancer Research. He came to the Institute from MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was chair of Experimental Therapeutics and director of the Center for Targeted Therapy. He has more than 350 publications and 15 patents, and his work has resulted in three new cancer drugs currently in clinical trials.

Dr. Powis studies the mechanisms that enable cancer cells to survive stress. Solid tumors exist in a stressed environment for cell growth. In order to survive, cancer cells initiate specific adaptive and constitutive changes allowing them to adapt to the hostile hypoxic environment, escape cell death and increase formation of new blood vessels and metastasis. All of these responses lead to highly aggressive tumors that are resistant to therapy. To identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention that is applicable to a wide variety of tumor types, the Powis lab studies the mechanisms that enable cancer cells to survive stress.