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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Joins the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Collaborative Relationship Integrates More of the Brightest Minds in Cancer Immunotherapy to Accelerate Research and Save Lives

SAN FRANCISCO and BOSTON – Oct. 16, 2017 – The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy today announced that researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have joined its network. Dana-Farber is a leader in cancer research and brings a team of experts who will collaborate with Parker Institute investigators to enhance and expand research projects and clinical trials. Dana-Farber’s expansive clinical trial capabilities and strong immuno-oncology research approach will complement the current work at the Parker Institute, specifically in checkpoint inhibitor resistance.

Leadership at both institutions have worked together to identify projects that support the Parker Institute’s strategic roadmap. Projects include those focused on basic mechanisms underlying checkpoint inhibitor resistance and immune activation and priming. Clinical research could include trials that integrate checkpoint therapies with cancer vaccines. In many cases, these projects will be collaborations with Parker Institute investigators at other institutions.

“Dana-Farber has been involved in the Parker Institute from the beginning, and President and CEO Laurie Glimcher played a critical role in the development of our model and our research strategy,” said Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D., CEO and president of the Parker Institute. “Dana-Farber is a longstanding innovator in oncology and has a very strong history of collaboration. Its team of outstanding investigators will add immense value to our network and help accelerate the development of cancer immunotherapies with the greatest chance of impact on patients.”

The Parker Institute created a flexible model to easily expand its network and recruit world-class talent like the researchers at Dana-Farber. The researchers joining the Parker Institute include:

  • Nick Haining, BCh, BM, is a physician-scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT who studies the mechanisms underlying T cell exhaustion and immune evasion by tumors. Dr. Haining’s lab uses cellular immunology, functional genomics, epigenetics and single cell profiling to understand why protective T cell memory fails to occur in cancer and chronic viral infection, and how tumors avoid immune attack.
  • Catherine Wu, M.D., is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with expertise in cancer genomics, immunogenomics and the design and testing of personalized cancer vaccines. A major priority of her studies is the identification of tumor-specific antigens that would allow effective tumor targeting without collateral toxicity. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and Institute Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
  • Philip Kranzusch, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. His lab uses structural and biochemical approaches to understand how the immune system recognizes cancer and is currently focused on harnessing the cGAS-STING pathway to control immune signaling and antitumor immunity.
  • F. Stephen Hodi, Jr., M.D., is an internationally recognized leader in developing immune therapy and melanoma therapeutics, particularly known for the clinical development of checkpoint inhibitors. He led the first human trial of ipilimumab, which blocks the CTLA-4 checkpoint. This later led to the phase III registration trial, which was the first study to show a survival advantage for a melanoma drug, leading to FDA approval of ipilimumab. Dr. Hodi has continued as a key investigator in the clinical development of the second family of checkpoint inhibitors, which block PD-1 and PD-L1, and have improved outcomes in many other malignancies, such as lung and kidney cancer.

“We are thrilled to be joining the Parker Institute research endeavor. The best way to make a huge impact in the field of oncology is to work collaboratively with leading researchers and institutions. This approach will help us overcome barriers that stand in the way of developing revolutionary therapies,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D., president and CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a member of the Parker Institute’s scientific steering committee. “Dana-Farber is continuing to advance the rapid progress seen in immuno-oncology over the past five to 10 years, and we are honored to be part of the impressive team that the Parker Institute has convened. We are hopeful that with so many talented scientists working in unison toward a common goal, we will have many positive outcomes.”

As part of the Parker Institute, Dana-Farber will have access to innovative tools, resources and services. They include clinical trial management, bioinformatics and data analysis, and intellectual property management to help drive the research forward.

“We are thrilled to have our colleagues and collaborators from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute joining the Parker Institute,” said Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., Parker Institute center director at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The Parker Institute was not created to solely include a set number of institutions; rather, it’s overarching goal is to integrate the best efforts of the most outstanding scientists and physicians in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Together, our aim is to discover and investigate the most innovative means to use the power of the immune system to control cancer.”

About the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy brings together the best scientists, clinicians and industry partners to build a smarter and more coordinated cancer immunotherapy research effort.

The Parker Institute is an unprecedented collaboration between the country’s leading immunologists and cancer centers, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford Medicine, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Pennsylvania and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Parker Institute network also includes more than 40 industry and nonprofit partners, more than 60 labs and more than 300 of the nation’s top researchers focused on treating the deadliest cancers.

The goal is to accelerate the development of breakthrough immune therapies capable of turning most cancers into curable diseases. The institute was created through a $250 million grant from The Parker Foundation.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

From achieving the first remissions in childhood cancer with chemotherapy in 1948, to developing the very latest new therapies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of the world’s leading centers of cancer research and treatment. It is the only center ranked in the top 4 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals for both adult and pediatric cancer care.

Dana-Farber sits at the center of a wide range of collaborative efforts to reduce the burden of cancer through scientific inquiry, clinical care, education, community engagement, and advocacy. Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center provides the latest in cancer care for adults; Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center for children. The Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center unites the cancer research efforts of five Harvard academic medical centers and two graduate schools, while Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care provides high quality cancer treatment in communities outside Boston’s Longwood Medical Area.

Dana-Farber is dedicated to a unique, 50/50 balance between cancer research and care, and much of the Institute’s work is dedicated to translating the results of its discovery into new treatments for patients locally and around the world.


Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy: Anna Prince,, (415) 930-4328

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Brendan Monahan, BrendanJ_Monahan@DFCI.HARVARD.EDU, (617) 632-5653