Speaker Profile

Ph.D., Chair of Immunology and Executive Director of Immunotherapy Platform, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Jim Allison, Ph.D. contributed to one of the most important therapeutic advances in a generation, inventing a completely new way to strike cancer that Science magazine named “breakthrough of the year” in 2013, citing Allison’s work. Over the past 30 years some of the most important discoveries in immunology have emerged from his lab. He was one of the first to identify the T cell receptor, he showed that a molecule called CD28 functions as the T cell’s gas pedal, and in 1995, he identified the T cell’s brakes. This led to his development of ipilimumb, an antibody that targets CTLA-4, blocking the breaks and unleashing a strong immune response, This opened up a new vista in cancer treatment. Immune checkpoint blockades are now approved for some late stage cancers and hundreds of clinical trials are underway in earlier stages of these diseases and against other cancers. Since 2011, Allison has served as director of Cancer Research Institute’s Scientific Advisory Council. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Allison earned his doctorate in biological sciences from The University of Texas at Austin and a postdoctoral fellowship at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. He has been a professor at MD Anderson twice and at University of California, Berkeley, where he served as director.

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