News Release

AACR: MD Anderson's Padmanee Sharma elected Fellow of the AACR Academy

Physician-scientist honored for pioneering work to advance immunotherapy

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D.


Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D.

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Credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice president of Immunobiology, professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology, and director of scientific programs for the James P. Allison Institute at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been elected to the 2024 class of Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy in recognition of her work to establish and advance immune checkpoint therapies as effective treatments for patients with a variety of cancers.

The mission of the AACR Academy is to honor distinguished scientists whose contributions have propelled significant progress and breakthroughs against cancer. Sharma is part of a select cohort of 30 distinguished scientists, rigorously reviewed and chosen by the AACR Academy for their exceptional contributions driving innovation and progress against cancer.

Sharma joins 14 previously elected fellows from MD Anderson, including current members James P. Allison, Ph.D.Neal G. Copeland, Ph.D.Ronald A. DePinho, M.D.Andy Futreal, Ph.D., Nancy A. Jenkins, Ph.D.V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D., Guillermina (Gigi) Lozano, Ph.D., Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., and Louise C. Strong, M.D. Former members, now deceased, include Isaiah J. Fidler, D.V.M., Ph.D., Emil J Freireich, M.D., Waun Ki Hong, M.D., and John Mendelsohn, M.D.

"Dr. Sharma is being honored for her significant contributions to advancing cancer immunotherapy, including some of the earliest trials that shaped our current clinical practice,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Her innovative work continues to advance our understanding of immunobiology, and we are proud of her important contributions to the field."

Sharma is an internationally renowned physician-scientist whose research work is focused on investigating mechanisms and pathways within the immune system that facilitate tumor rejection or elicit resistance to immune checkpoint therapy. In 2006, she conducted the first neoadjuvant trial with immune checkpoint therapy, which allowed her to establish the safety of the neoadjuvant approach for immune checkpoint therapy and provide tumor tissues for translational research studies.

Her translational research studies also identified multiple mechanisms of response and resistance, including ICOS as a pathway to improve anti-tumor responses and VISTA as a compensatory inhibitory pathway that inhibits anti-tumor responses.

In addition, she has led multi-institutional clinical trials that enabled Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals of nivolumab as a treatment for patients with metastatic bladder cancer as well as nivolumab alone or with ipilimumab for patients with metastatic kidney cancer.

Her ongoing research is focused on identifying novel mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy, and she leads multiple clinical trials to evaluate new treatment strategies to overcome these resistance pathways.

In 2023, Sharma was named director of scientific programs for the Allison Institute, which aims to catalyze breakthroughs by integrating immunobiology across disciplines. With a strong commitment to discovery science, Allison Institute members harness laboratory and clinical insights to develop synergetic therapies that will bring the benefits of immunotherapy to all patients. Sharma also serves as the scientific director for MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform, which oversees immune monitoring studies for over 100 immunotherapy clinical trials.

"At MD Anderson, we are committed to leading groundbreaking research that will advance our mission to end cancer," said Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer at MD Anderson. “Dr. Sharma strives to advance impactful immunotherapy research, leading numerous trials and research studies that have informed our current understanding of cancer and improved the lives of patients.”

Sharma received a Ph.D. in immunology and an M.D. from Pennsylvania State University. She completed her clinical residency at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and her clinical fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Sharma holds the T.C. and Jeanette D. Hsu Endowed Chair in Cell Biology. She is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and has received numerous honors, including the Emil Frei III Award for Excellence in Translational Research, the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology, the Women in Science with Excellence (WISE) award, the Heath Memorial Award, and the Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Research.

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