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The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Appoints Immunotherapy Expert John Connolly as Chief Scientific Officer

SAN FRANCISCO – The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) announced today that John Connolly, Ph.D., has been named chief scientific officer (CSO). In this role, Connolly will design and execute PICI’s overall research strategy in close collaboration with the institute’s leadership team, center directors and scientific steering committee. He will also be responsible for identifying and expanding partnerships with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to support PICI’s research efforts.

“As PICI looks to the future, it is critical that we identify and target the most promising areas of cancer immunotherapy and collaborate with the right industry partners to advance our mission,” said Sean Parker, PICI founder and chairman. “John is a globally recognized scientific leader in immuno-oncology, with a background spanning academic research and executive roles in biotechnology. I’m convinced he has the experience and energy to build on our success in bringing immunotherapy treatments from bench to bedside to market for the benefit of all cancer patients.”

Connolly has more than 20 years of research experience in immunotherapy and has published more than 100 papers and chapters in peer-reviewed journals. As a human immunologist, his research interests focus on immune monitoring and immunometabolism.

He most recently served as the CSO of Tessa Therapeutics, a clinical stage cell therapy company focused on solid tumor immunotherapy, where he led a team of researchers to develop next-generation T cell therapy treatments. In June 2017, Connolly started collaborating with PICI through its partnership with Tessa to develop novel cellular therapy and immuno-oncology combination treatments.

“The field of immunotherapy is at a maturity point with technology right now, which gives us the opportunity to create long-term, durable treatments that wouldn’t have been possible five years ago,” said Connolly. “I was attracted to PICI because of Sean’s powerful vision for the institute, and I am most looking forward to collaborating with PICI’s network of world-class investigators to find the fastest path forward to cure patients.”

Connolly is also a research director at the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology, A*Star, an associate professor at National University of Singapore and an adjunct associate professor of Immunology at Baylor University, where he served on the Board of Governors for the Institute of Biomedical Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in Immunology from Dartmouth Medical School, where he studied human dendritic cell biology.

About the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) is radically changing the way cancer research is done. Founded in 2016 through a $250 million gift from Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker, the San Francisco-based nonprofit is an unprecedented collaboration between the country’s leading immunotherapy researchers 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 institute also supports top researchers at other institutions, including City of Hope, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Institute for Systems Biology and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. By forging alliances with academic, industry and nonprofit partners, PICI makes big bets on bold research to fulfill its mission: to accelerate the development of breakthrough immune therapies to turn all cancers into curable diseases. Find out more at


Contact Information
Anna Prince
Sr. Director, Marketing and Communications
Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
(628) 899-7650