COLUMBUS, Ohio – James P. Allison, PhD, is the recipient of the 25th Herbert and Maxine Block Memorial Lectureship Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer. A 2018 Nobel Prize co-recipient in physiology/medicine, Allison serves as the chair of immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
He is a renowned immunologist whose research led to the discovery of the immune system’s T-cell receptor structure and later a molecule that he describes as the ‘gas pedal’ of the immune response. He next discovered that blocking another molecule that serves as the brakes of the immune response unleashed the immune system to attack cancer. His work pioneered a new approach to treating cancer – immunotherapy.
Allison will present on the future of immuno-oncology at a private event at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) on Friday, April 14, where he will be honored with the $50,000 Block Memorial Lectureship Award, one of the largest prizes given by an academic institution in the field of cancer.
“It has been –and continues to be – an honor to contribute to advancement of the field of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer is no longer a lethal disease and cure is possible for many. I encourage all young scientists to keep an open mind and continue to push forward in this important work. There is so much potential or collaboration for benefit of patients with cancer,” said Allison.
During his visit, Allison will meet with researchers from the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology (PIIO). Established in 2019, the institute demonstrates the commitment made by the OSUCCC – James to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer.
“It’s fitting that Dr. Allison was chosen as this year’s recipient. His distinguished career studying the regulation of T-cell responses and developing strategies for cancer immunotherapy perfectly aligns with our investment in the field of immuno-oncology. We are pleased to honor him with the Block Memorial Lectureship Award,” said Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD, director of the OSUCCC.
As part of this Block Lectureship Award recognition, Allison selects an OSUCCC – James faculty mentee specializing in cancer research who is awarded an additional $25,000 prize.
The 2023 Block Lectureship Junior Faculty Award recipient is Nandini Acharya, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Acharya’s research at the OSUCCC focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of the immune-suppressive cellular network in glioblastoma, the most prevalent and aggressive type of primary brain cancer in adults.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Acharya, who is also part of the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology at the OSUCCC – James. “Dr. Allison is the global face of cancer immunotherapy, and his work has changed cancer treatment forever. I’m excited to share my ideas and get advice from Dr. Allison as I build my research program wherein we will answer important questions in the field of cancer immunotherapy.”
As part of the Block Memorial Lectureship, Acharya receives two years of guidance and mentorship with Allison, who shares the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. Tasuku Honjo for “their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation."
“It says a great deal about the investment that the OSUCCC – James puts in its junior scientists that they enable us to gain access to leaders of Dr. Allison’s caliber to further advance our scientific discoveries,” adds Acharya. “Scientists are always grateful for financial support for our work, but the intellectual access is invaluable.”
Allison’s current work seeks to improve immune therapies in use by clinicians today, and to identify new targets to unleash the immune system to destroy cancer.
The Block Memorial Lectureship is an international competitive annual recognition program of the OSUCCC – James to celebrate an individual whose contributions to cancer research, patient care and/or education have received international recognition. It is funded by proceeds from the annual Herbert J. Block Memorial Tournament, a golf outing established in 1982 by the Block family to honor their parents. Since its inception, the tournament has raised $6.3 million for the OSUCCC – James.