New Orleans, LA - Paulo C. Rodriguez, PhD, Assistant Professor - Research - of Microbiology, Immunology & Parasitology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans' Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, was selected as the 2013 recipient of the Presidential Award by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). Established in 1991, the SITC Presidential Award is the most prestigious of the young investigator awards in immunotherapy, which are based upon excellence in quality of research and presentation, the strength of results and methods, and whether the reported research significantly advances the field of cancer immunotherapy. From among four candidates, the SITC leadership selects the young investigator making the most outstanding oral presentation of his/her work at the annual meeting to receive its Presidential Award. The award was presented to Dr. Rodriguez during the SITC 28th Annual Meeting, November 7 - 10, 2013.
Dr. Rodriguez's award-winning research identified a potential new therapeutic approach to make T cells, key cells of the immune system, resistant to the suppressive effect caused by tumors. T cells are a type of white blood cell that help the body fight infection and diseases, including cancer. Although it is known that cancer cells inactivate T cells, allowing tumors to grow unchecked, understanding how to prevent and overcome this process has been limited. Dr. Rodriguez studied the role of Notch, a family of receptors, in the suppression of T cell responses in cancer. By manipulating Notch-1 in transgenic mice with cancer, he found that increasing active Notch-1 levels in tumor-specific T cells dramatically enhanced their anti-tumor activity and rendered them resistant to immune suppression caused by tumors. Dr. Rodriguez's findings suggest that Notch-1 may be an effective new therapeutic approach for T cell-based immunotherapy.
In addition to two National Institutes of Health grants, Dr. Rodriguez's research is also supported by the Copeland/LSUHSC Partnership in Viruses, Cancer and Immunotherapy.
LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's academic health leader, LSUHSC comprises a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. Louisiana's flagship academic health center, LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSUHSC research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSUHSC faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu and http://www.twitter.com/LSUHSCHealth
Founded in 1984, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer is a non-profit organization of clinicians, researchers, students, post-doctoral fellows, and allied health professionals dedicated to improving cancer patient outcomes by advancing the development and application of cancer immunotherapy through interaction, innovation and leadership. For more information about SITC, please visit the Society website at: http://www.sitcancer.org
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