The conscientious and committed members of the Scientific Advisory Council are widely regarded as the most accomplished thought leaders in the field of cancer cell and gene therapy. The vision and value they bring to the funding process cannot be overstated and is another factor that distinguishes Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy from many other funding agencies.
Michael T. Lotze, MD
University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center
Michael T. Lotze, MD, is professor of surgery, immunology and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Lotze received his MD and PhD degrees from Northwestern University. Except for a two-year period at GlaxoSmithKline, King of Prussia, PA, and a dozen years on the senior staff at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Lotze has done his work at the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Lotze serves as associate editor of the Journal of Immunotherapy and Oncology. He initiated the first approved gene therapy protocols at the NIH and has treated more than 100 patients on gene therapy protocols at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the co-inventor of 10 patents in dendritic cell vaccines and antigen discovery, and author of more than 500 scientific papers and chapters in basic and applied tumor immunology and cytokine biology.
Currently, Dr. Lotze is the leader in the area of exploring cancer as a disorder of cell death and is devising novel strategies to approach the disease in this context.
Stuart A. Aaronson, MD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Stuart A. Aaronson, MD, is a cancer biologist who has made seminal contributions in the fields of oncogenes and growth factor signaling. His contributions include the discovery of the first normal function of an oncogene; the identification of erbB2 as an amplified oncogene in human breast cancer; and the identification of KGF (FGF7), an epithelial cell specific growth factor. He also developed stable expression cDNA cloning technology, which has led to the discovery of a number of novel genes with transforming properties.
Dr. Aaronson’s discoveries paved the way for the development of targeted therapies for cancer patients. He previously served as chief, laboratory of cellular and molecular biology at the National Cancer Institute (1977-1993).
He is the author of more than 530 publications and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service, Rhoads Memorial Award from the American Association of Cancer Research and the Paul Erhlich Prize from Germany.
Nduka Amankulor, MD
University of Pennsylvania, Abramson Cancer Center
Nduka Amankulor, MD, serves as Chief of Neurosurgical Oncology and Director of the Penn Brain Tumor Center at University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Amankulor earned his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine and subsequently completed his residency in neurosurgery at Yale New Haven Hospital. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer and genetics biology, as well as a fellowship in neurosurgical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Most recently, Dr. Amankulor served as Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Dr. Amankulor’s clinical practice focuses on primary and metastatic brain tumors, as well as spine, intraventricular and skull base tumors, and hydrocephalus. He uses the latest research and treatment options, such as Neuroendoport® surgery and fluorescence-based surgeries, to provide personalized treatment that creates optimal outcomes. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Amankulor is a leading cancer immunobiologist whose laboratory has performed groundbreaking studies on mechanisms of immune dysfunction in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Amankulor sees patients at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.
John C. Bell, PhD
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
John C. Bell, PhD, is senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Centre for Innovative Cancer Research and professor in the University of Ottawa Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology.
At the University of Ottawa, Dr. Bell leads the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, a Terry Fox funded group from across Canada that is developing virus-based cancer therapeutics. At the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Center, he is a member of the Center for Cancer Therapeutics. He also serves as director of the Biotherapeutics Program for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; scientific director of the National Centre of Excellence for the development of Biotherapeutics for Cancer Therapy; and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. Bell received his PhD from McMaster University in 1982. The three years that followed, he trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa and then at the Medical Research Council in London, England. Dr. Bell began his independent research career at McGill University in 1986 and moved to the University of Ottawa Department of Medicine in 1989.
Christine Brown, PhD
City of Hope
Christine Brown, PhD, is a faculty member in the Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation and the Department of Immuno-Oncology at City of Hope.
As deputy director of the T Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory, Dr. Brown, the Heritage Provider Network Professor in Immunotherapy, provides scientific oversight for the preclinical research program, as well as the ongoing clinical trial program focused on the development of CAR-engineered T cells for the treatment of hematological malignancies and solid tumors. Dr. Brown’s personal research efforts are focused on developing and refining redirected CAR T cells for the treatment of malignant brain tumors.
Dr. Brown received her PhD from University of California, Berkeley and was a Leukemia and Lymphoma Scholar during her postdoctoral fellowship at Pennsylvania State University. Her scientific contributions to the development and optimization of tumor-specific CAR T cells for the treatment of glioblastoma are supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and are the basis of an ongoing phase I clinical trial supported by Gateway for Cancer Research and R01 FD005129.
E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
The work of E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, is focused on developing novel genetic therapies for malignant brain tumors by engineering viruses that can kill tumor cells without affecting normal brain cells. Dr. Chiocca’s laboratory is combining this research with novel pharmacological and immunotherapeutic approaches for brain cancer.
Currently, Dr. Chiocca is enrolling patients in a clinical trial using an oncolytic herpes simplex virus type 1 from which scientists have removed or modified pieces to stop it from replicating in normal cells, but not in tumor cells. Dr. Chiocca’s lab is also studying gene, viral and immunotherapy of brain tumors, how to circumvent the host responses that limit the efficacy of novel engineered viruses that target gliomas, as well as how to stimulate the antitumor immune response.
Recently Dr. Chiocca identified a potential setback to the use of this treatment. He found that natural killer cells (NK cells), a type of white blood cell that targets viruses and sometimes tumors within the body, attack the virus-infected cells, making the treatment much less effective. Dr. Chiocca has identified the specific receptors that allow the NK cells to impede the virotherapy and is looking for ways to prevent this so the treatment can work to its full potential and be the most effective.
Dr. Chiocca completed medical school at The University of Texas Houston and his residency in neurological surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2007, Dr. Chiocca received an ACGT Clinical Translation Award.
Mitchell H. Finer, PhD
MPM Capital, ElevateBio
Mitchell (Mitch) Finer, PhD, is the chief scientific officer of ElevateBio and president of ElevateBio BaseCamp. He has been instrumental in founding, building and leading a number of MPM Capital portfolio companies. He founded and is the former CEO of Oncorus, focused on the development of oncolytic herpes viruses for the treatment of solid tumors. He is also a founder and the former CEO of CODA Biotherapeutics, focused on developing a chemogenetic neuromodulation platform for the treatment of severe neurological disorders. Dr. Finer serves on several MPM Capital portfolio company boards, including CODA, Oncorus, Semma Therapeutics and TCR2 Therapeutics.
For three decades, Dr. Finer has focused on drug development, utilizing the novel platforms of cell and gene therapy, cancer immunotherapy and regenerative medicine, and he has held several senior leadership roles in companies developing these therapies.
Prior to joining MPM Capital, Dr. Finer was the CSO of bluebird bio. He also served as CEO of Intracel Corporation and Genteric, vice president research for Cell Genesys and the Gencell division of Aventis Pharma (now Sanofi) and senior vice president of development at Novacell (now Viacyte). He also successfully co-founded the retinal disease gene therapy company Avalanche Biotechnologies (now Adverum Biotechnologies) where he serves as a member of the board of directors.
Dr. Finer has been named inventor on 15 issued U.S. patents. He received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University and a BS in biochemistry and microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Joseph C. Glorioso, III, PhD
Past Council Chair
University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center
Joseph C. Glorioso, III, PhD, is emeritus chair of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, having served as chair for 20 years.
He is the founding editor for Gene Therapy and served in that position for 20 years. He also is a founding member and former president of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and former president of the Department Chairs of the US Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Departments. He is a fellow of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has had an active NIH-supported research program for 40 years and has been an active NIH Study Section member for several decades. Dr. Glorioso also co-founded and is chair of the Scientific Advisory Boards of Oncorus Inc. Cambridge, MA; and Coda Biotherapeutics, San Francisco, CA.
Dr. Glorioso’s contributions to science include defining antiviral immune responses to herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, the genetics of HSV pathogenesis and latency, and mechanisms of HSV infection. He has pioneered the design and application of HSV gene vectors for the treatment of nervous system diseases such as peripheral neuropathies, chronic pain, and brain tumors. He continues to be a worldwide leader in the HSV gene vector field through the creation of innovative gene delivery technologies and the development of manufacturing methods for application of HSV vectors in human clinical trials.
Carl H. June, MD
University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center
At the University of Pennsylvania, Carl H. June, MD, is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine; and director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. He also directs a research laboratory that studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation that relate to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer and chronic infection.
In 2011, Dr. June and his research team published findings detailing a new therapy in which patients with refractory and relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia were treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T cells. The treatment has now also been used with promising results to treat children with refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Dr. June has published more than 350 manuscripts and is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine in 2012 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, William B. Coley Award, Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, Philadelphia Award in 2012, Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science in 2014 (shared with S. Grupp, B. Levine and D. Porter), Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (shared with J. Allison), Novartis Prize in Immunology (shared with Z. Eshaar and S. Rosenberg), Karl Landsteiner Memorial Award, Debrecen Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Dr. June received the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy’s Edward Netter Leadership Award in 2019. In 2022, Dr. June received the Keio Medical Science Prize, which is awarded by Japan’s oldest private university, Keio University.
Dr. June is a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He had graduate training in Immunology and malaria with Dr. Paul-Henri Lambert at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1978 to 1979 and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology with E. Donnell Thomas and John Hansen at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle from 1983 to 1986. Dr. June is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology.
Noriyuki Kasahara, MD, PhD
University of California, San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Noriyuki Kasahara, MD, PhD, is principal investigator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Brain Tumor Center.
Previously Dr. Kasahara was a professor of cell biology and pathology at the University of Miami and served as co-Leader of the Viral Oncology Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Other past positions include professor of medicine and molecular pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he was director of the UCLA Vector Core and Shared Resource facility at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center for more than a decade. He also established and directed vector core facilities as a faculty member at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Kasahara has more than 30 years of experience and has authored more than 140 peer-reviewed articles in the fields of gene therapy and genetic engineering. He pioneered the development of tumor-selective retroviral replicating vectors (RRV) for gene therapy of cancer, including first-in-human multi-center clinical trials sponsored by Tocagen Inc.
Dr. Kasahara serves as a member of the Scientific Committee on Cancer Gene and Cell Therapy for the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Japan Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and is a past president of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy of Cancer.
He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of Tocagen Inc., POC Medical Systems Inc., the Mendez National Institute of Transplantation Foundation, and is on the Board of Advisors for OneLegacy. He is also a board-certified clinical pathologist, specializing in transplant immunogenetics, and serves as associate medical director of the HLA clinical laboratory for VRL Eurofins’ Los Angeles operations.
Dr. Kasahara trained with Professor Y. W. Kan at UCSF, a pioneer in the field of genetic diagnostics and recipient of the Lasker Award.
Crystal L. Mackall, MD
Crystal L. Mackall, MD, is the Ernest and Amelia Gallo Family Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at Stanford University. She serves as founding director of the Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, associate director of Stanford Cancer Institute, leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program and director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford.
During a 27-year tenure culminating as chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch, NCI and now through the Mackall Lab at Stanford, she has led an internationally recognized translational research program focused on immunooncology. She has conducted numerous early phase and first-in-human and first-in-child clinical trials spanning dendritic cell vaccines, cytokines and adoptive immunotherapy using NK cells and genetically modified T cells.
Dr. Mackall’s work is credited with identifying an essential role for the thymus in human T cell regeneration and discovering IL-7 as the master regulator of T cell homeostasis. Her group was among the first to demonstrate impressive activity of CD19-CAR in pediatric leukemia, developed a novel CD22-CAR with impressive activity in leukemia and lymphoma refractory to CD19 targeting, and is leading exciting work focusing on CAR T cell therapy for brain tumors. Her group has identified T cell exhaustion as a major feature limiting the activity of CAR T cells. Recently, Dr. Mackall’s group has developed novel approaches to prevent and reverse human T cell exhaustion. Her clinical trials are notable for incorporation of deep biologic endpoints that further our understanding of the basis for success and failure of novel immunotherapeutics.
Dr. Mackall is the recipient of numerous awards and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Physicians. She serves in numerous national leadership positions, including co-PI on the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Network (U54), leader of the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, and co-leader of the St. Baldrick’s-StandUp2Cancer Pediatric Dream Team. She is board certified in pediatrics, pediatric hematology-oncology and internal medicine. In 2022, Dr. Mackall received the Sarcoma Foundation of America’s Nobility in Science Award.
Stephen J. Russell, MD, PhD
Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
Stephen J. Russell, MD, PhD, is chair of the Department of Molecular Medicine Program, the Richard O Jacobsen chair of Molecular Medicine and consultant to the Department of Hematology at the Mayo Clinic. His research interests include engineering viral tropisms, evading antiviral immune responses and the development of new methods for noninvasive in vivo monitoring of gene expression. Dr. Russell’s long-term research aim is to develop injectable gene therapy vectors for the treatment of disseminated malignancies, particularly multiple myeloma, and demonstrate their efficacy in clinical trials.
Dr. Russell graduated in medicine from Edinburgh University, Scotland, with distinctions in microbiology and surgery. He later earned his PhD at the University of London after researching the retroviral/parvoviral transfer of interleukin genes to cancer cells as a novel approach to immunotherapy, which led to a clinical gene therapy trial at Marsden Hospital, England. Dr. Russell held appointments at hospitals throughout England and Scotland before moving to the United States to join the Mayo Clinic.
“Many genetically engineered viruses have been shown to destroy tumors in mice,” says Dr. Russell. “There is therefore no question that they will eventually prove to be useful in the treatment of human cancer. Our current challenge is to understand the barriers to success that are absent in tumor-bearing mice but present in cancer patients, and to devise new treatment strategies to address them.”
Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, is the Stephen and Barbara Friedman chair and the founding director of the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He previously served on the board of directors of the American Society of Gene Therapy (2004-2007) and currently serves on the editorial boards of the peer-reviewed scientific journals Molecular Therapy, Human Gene Therapy and Gene Therapy.
Dr. Sadelain’s research focuses on novel approaches to enhance T cell co-stimulation and function. His clinical program focuses on B cell malignancies, including on-going studies with CD19-targeted T cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and upcoming studies in acute leukemia and lymphoma, as well as solid tumors, including upcoming studies in metastatic prostate cancer.
George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD
George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, is co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. He has led Regeneron alongside co-founder and CEO Len Schleifer, MD, PhD, since 1989 and served as a principal inventor and developer of Regeneron’s six FDA-approved drugs and foundational technologies, including the Trap technology VelociGene® and VelocImmune®.
Dr. Yancopoulos has been driven by science his entire life. He began his education at the Bronx High School of Science, received his MD and PhD from Columbia University and went on to become the 11th most highly cited scientist in the world in the 1990s.
In 2004, Dr. Yancopoulos was elected to be a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Savio L.C. Woo, PhD
Council Chair Emeritus
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, retired
Savio L.C. Woo, PhD, dedicated his career to the pursuit of fundamental science and technology development in gene and cell therapy, and to the translation of laboratory advances into direct patient benefits.
Dr. Woo is an internationally recognized expert in molecular human genetics and gene therapy. He received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1971 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, becoming professor of cell biology (1984-1996) and founding director of its Center for Gene Therapy (1991-1995). He joined the faculty at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1996.
Dr. Woo has held many prominent leadership positions in the field, including chairman of an NIH Study Section on Gene Therapy Vector Development and as president of the American Society for Gene & Cell Therapy (1999-2000). He has published more than 350 articles, reviews and book chapters.