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BCRF Grantee Since

2011

Area(s) of Focus

Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD

Director, Immunotherapy Clinical Trials
Associate Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Associate Attending Physician, Melanoma/Sarcoma Service
Member, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

Current Research

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 revealed 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 strategies to improve tumor response to immunotherapy including radiation therapy, which has been shown to activate the immune system, and several targeted combination approaches.  The investigators are also collaborating with BCRF grantee, Dr. Heather McArthur, to test the effects of immunotherapy in combination with cryoablation, a technique that uses freezing temperatures to kill tumor cells and activate a local immune response in patients with early stage breast cancer. Collectively, these studies will have a significant impact on advancing immunotherapy, which has been successful for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, to improve breast cancer outcomes.

Bio

Dr. Wolchok is Chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service, Associate Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) with an expertise in the treatment of metastatic melanoma. 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.

Co-Investigators