Giants of Cancer Care Honorees June and Rosenberg Receive Prestigious Prize

February 17, 2021

February 17, 2021 - Carl H. June, MD, and Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, have received the 2021 Dan David Prize Laureate for their research in oncology. They, along with Zelig Eshhar, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, will share a prize of $1 million.

Carl H. June, MD, and Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, have received the 2021 Dan David Prize Laureate for their research in oncology. They, along with Zelig Eshhar, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, will share a prize of $1 million. The Dan David Prize is endowed by the Dan David Foundation, headquartered at Tel Aviv University.

June, a 2015 Giants of Cancer Care® award winner, was recognized for his research of gene-modified T cells, initially in people with HIV/AIDS and then in patients with advanced leukemia. In the 1980s and 19902s, June and his lab discovered several basic scientific principles of how the cells in the immune system work to fight cancer. His research led to the approval to tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) in 2017, the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. It is used to treat pediatric patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and adult patients with relapsed or refractory (r/r) large B-cell lymphoma, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rosenberg, MD, PhD, a 2013 Giants of Cancer Care® award winner, was recognized for his research that demonstrated the effectiveness of CAR T cells to mediate the regression of B-cell malignancies in humans. In recent work, Rosenberg established new approaches for the application of immunotherapy to patients with a variety of common solid cancers by targeting the unique mutations present in the patient’s cancer. His recent studies of the adoptive transfer of genetically modified lymphocytes have resulted in the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with various types of tumors.

Rosenberg is chief of the Surgery Branch at the Center for Cancer Research, and senior investigator and head of the Tumor Immunology Section at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The possibilities of gene therapy are extraordinary. Manipulating genes creates an entirely new and almost unlimited way to deal with disease that could change the way medicine is practiced in the twenty-first century,” Rosenberg said in 2013.

The Dan David Prize was established by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist. His aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future.

The Prize aims to honor achievements across fields. A new theme is selected for each of the 3 different categories – Past, which honors contributions that expand knowledge of the past; Present, which honors contributions that enrich society in the present; and Future, which honors contributions that promise to improve the future of the world. Prize winners agree to donate 10% of the award money for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their fields. June and Rosenberg were honored for molecular medicine in the Future category.

The Dan David Prize also honored Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his impact in public health and leadership during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. He was recognized for public health in the Present category.

The award winners will be honored at a ceremony that will held virtually in May 2021.

Reference

Dan David Prize 2021 laureates in health and medicine announced. News release. Tel Aviv University. February 15, 2021. Accessed February 16, 2021. http://bit.ly/3ay9Chb

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