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Jeffrey Weber Joins NYU Langone, Plans to Expand Clinical Trial and Immunotherapy Initiatives

Laura Panjwani
Published: Friday, Sep 25, 2015

Dr. Jeffrey S. Weber

Jeffrey S. Weber, MD, PhD

Immunotherapy expert Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, joined NYU Langone Medical Center’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center as its deputy director and co-director of its melanoma program. Weber also oversees the center’s work in experimental therapeutics.

The addition of Weber is a testament to NYU Langone’s commitment to expanding its early-stage clinical trial efforts, said Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone.

“My number one priority right now is to increase clinical trials, in particular investigational and early-phase trials, and I think Jeff’s experience as a long-standing clinical investigator and his expertise in immunotherapy is going to help us beef up our program,” said Neel. “Jeff has a great knowledge of the clinical trial arena and the experimental therapeutics arena. I think he is going to add a lot to the center.”

Since 2007, Weber has served as director of the Donald A. Adam Comprehensive Melanoma Research Center at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, in Tampa, Florida. His research focuses on experimental therapeutics and drug development, particularly in the areas of immunotherapy and checkpoint inhibitory antibody development in melanoma and other tumor types. His laboratory monitors and characterizes how T cells respond in patients with cancer who are undergoing immunotherapy. In addition, he established laboratory models to further understand how the use of antibodies that “take the brakes off” the immune system has promoted the use of immunotherapy in patients with cancer.

OncLive spoke with Weber to learn more about his goals for his new position and his views on the field of immunotherapy.

OncLive: What are your main goals in your new position?

Dr Weber: I have multiple goals. First off, I plan to continue to do interesting and innovative immunotherapy clinical trials. My second goal is to establish a phase I immunotherapy investigational clinical trial unit that is second to none at NYU, and my third goal is to help bring the translational clinical trial effort at NYU up to the next level. There are a lot of very good scientists, patient-care physicians, and clinical researchers there, and my job is to bring them all together and coordinate so that it raises the level of clinical research and cancer at the institution—not just in immunotherapy, but across the board

Why do you specifically focus your efforts on expanding phase I clinical trials?

In our business, clinical trials are the key to accessing very innovative and interesting drugs. A lot of the pharmaceutical companies need to do the very careful toxicity and correlative marker studies early on when they develop their immunologic agents, but there are not a lot of people around the United States that have the expertise to do that well. 

Also, a lot of the smaller pharmaceutical companies lack the big resources to go to the large cancer centers right in the beginning of their research. We certainly hope to attract the smaller pharmaceutical companies that are working on innovative drugs and combinations, and have them bring their studies to us for their first-in-human studies.  It is always the same places that are constantly doing the first-in-human studies, and we would like to establish NYU as one of those destinations.

Why did you choose NYU as the center to join to achieve these goals?

New York is the city of the 21st century in my view. It is an amazing place to be. I think NYU has the resources, the infrastructure, the new hospitals and research buildings, and the vision by the dean and senior leadership that is needed to succeed. They also have a lot of patients; New York is a huge city. It has all of the elements that I am looking for in a place to try and excel the field of immunotherapy.




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