Ziskin Prize Winners Will Collaborate to Further Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Treating Breast Cancer

Ziskin Prize Winners Will Collaborate to Further Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Treating Breast Cancer
Two prominent breast cancer scientists will use their shared $250,000 Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) grant to collaborate on the development of new therapies for treating breast cancer — and hopefully reducing mortality rates. SU2C’s 2020 Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research was awarded to Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Hillman Cancer Center, and Xiang Zhang, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine. The award for the new, year-long research project, which will combine the doctors' expertise in both breast cancer immuno-oncology and tumor immunology, was presented at this year’s SU2C Scientific Summit, held in January in Santa Monica, Calif. Specifically, the researchers will seek to further the availability of immune checkpoint inhibitors — a class of treatment that blocks proteins called checkpoints that are used by cancer cells to evade immune surveillance. “With their diverse backgrounds and complementary expertise, we’re confident that these two investigators will make great contributions to further develop therapies that could provide improved outcomes for breast cancer patients — and potentially reduce mortality rates,” John Glaspy, MD, selection committee co-chair, said in a press release. A professor of medicine in hematology and oncology at UPMC, Emens is co-leader of the Hillman Cancer immunology and immunotherapy program. She’s also director of translational immunotherapy for the UPMC Women’s Cancer Research Center, and has received global recognition for breast cancer immunotherapy research. Emens has a breast cancer vaccine to her credit. She shepherded Roche’s Tecentriq (atezolizumab) from preclinical assessment in human breast tumors ultimately to Phase 3 clinical trials,
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