University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCSF Immunologist to Head New Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

By Pete Farley | UCSF.edu | April 12, 2016

UCSF Immunologist to Head New Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Kouta Niizuma, a visiting graduate student, enriches spleen cells in the lab of Lewis Lanier, PhD. Photo by Noah Berger

Renowned UC San Francisco immunologist Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, has been named president and CEO of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, a national initiative launched with a $250 million grant from The Parker Foundation, a private philanthropic organization established by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker.

Bluestone, who was named this month to a Blue Ribbon Panel that will help to guide Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, remains A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor at UCSF, and will continue to oversee an active research program at the University.

portrait of Sean Parker
Sean Parker
portrait of Jeffrey Bluestone
Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD

The Parker Institute includes six centers – UCSF, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford Medicine, UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The UCSF center will be directed by Lewis Lanier, PhD, the J. Michael Bishop, MD, Distinguished Professor and chair of UCSF’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, which is ranked #2 worldwide by US News & World Report.

The Parker Institute’s goal is to accelerate the development of breakthrough immune therapies capable of turning cancer into a curable disease by ensuring the coordination and collaboration of the field’s top researchers and quickly translating their findings into patient treatments.

The Parker Institute includes over 40 laboratories and more than 300 researchers from the country’s top cancer centers.

Each Parker Institute center has received initial funding of $10 million to $15 million, investments that will continue to grow on an annual basis through additional project grants, shared resources and central funding.

We are at an inflection point in cancer research and now is the time to maximize immunotherapy’s unique potential to transform all cancers into manageable diseases, saving millions of lives.

Sean Parker

President of The Parker Foundation

“We are at an inflection point in cancer research and now is the time to maximize immunotherapy’s unique potential to transform all cancers into manageable diseases, saving millions of lives,” said Parker, president of The Parker Foundation. “We believe that the creation of a new funding and research model can overcome many of the obstacles that currently prevent research breakthroughs. Working closely with our scientists and more than 30 industry partners, the Parker Institute is positioned to broadly disseminate discoveries and, most importantly, more rapidly deliver treatments to patients.”

A Breakthrough Treatment Paradigm

While at the University of Chicago in the mid-1990s, Bluestone and colleagues discovered that a protein called CTLA-4 can act as a checkpoint, or “brake,” on the immune response. This work formed the basis for the development of checkpoint-blockade drugs, therapies that have been much in the news for achieving dramatic remissions of advanced cancers in some patients, particularly in cases of melanoma, lung cancer and kidney cancer. New checkpoint inhibitors are now in development for virtually all types of cancer.

 

Read more at UCSF.edu