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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Westchester Women's Award

Area(s) of Focus

Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD

Chief, Melanoma & Immunotherapeutics Service
Associate Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Attending Physician, Melanoma/Sarcoma Service
Member, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University
New York, New York

Current Research

Targeted immunotherapy has re-emerged as an exciting therapeutic option in the arsenal against cancer. Clinical trials in breast and other cancers for drugs that modulate immune response to tumors have demonstrated a sustained clinical benefit for some patients, but challenges persist in understanding the best approach for each patient, and to improving the response to immune-based therapies.  Effective immunization against breast cancer is difficult because breast cancer arises from cells that were once normal and our bodies have elaborate controls to stop the immune system from attacking our own tissues. However, research by Drs. Wolchok, Merghoub and Norton has found a way to trick the immune system by using a vaccine from a different species. It works because the immune system recognizes the vaccine as "foreign" and generates an immune response to destroy breast cancer cells as if they were foreign invaders. This research has moved from the laboratory to patients and in the last year, the researchers completed a clinical trial to test the safety and feasibility of the vaccine against breast cancer. In addition to these studies, the research team is pursuing other novel strategies to improve tumor response to immunotherapy including radiation therapy, which has been shown to activate the immune system, and several targeted combination approaches. They we will continue to investigate ways to use the immune system to treat breast cancer. Collectively, these studies will have a significant impact on advancing immunotherapy to improve breast cancer outcomes.


Dr. Wolchok is Chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service, Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Dr. Wolchok has helped establish MSKCC as a leader in the discovery and treatment of cancers with novel immunotherapies. Dr. Wolchok was instrumental in the clinical development leading to the approval of ipilimumab for advanced melanoma. He also leads the MSKCC Immune Monitoring Facility, a world-renowned full-time core dedicated to the pre-clinical and clinical cellular, serological and pathological monitoring of clinical trials of new immunotherapeutic approaches. He is Principal Investigator of numerous ongoing clinical trials at MSKCC in the area of immunotherapy. He supervises an NIH R01-funded basic science laboratory which is focused on investigating novel immunotherapeutic agents in pre-clinical laboratory models. In 2011, Dr. Wolchok established the Immunotherapeutics Clinical Core, a specialized phase 1-2 outpatient unit at MSKCC that is focused on the conduct of novel immunotherapy trials, with a specific emphasis on pharmacodynamic biomarker identification. This group treats patients with a broad spectrum of malignancies.