Prize Recipients

2017 Recipient

James Allison
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Allison showed that the molecule CTLA-4 is an inhibitory receptor that serves as a checkpoint to limit the expansion of T cells and pioneered the concept of blocking CTLA-4 to enhance immune responses to tumor cells. He developed an antagonistic anti-CTLA-4 antibody and based on elegant laboratory experiments, he convinced pharmaceutical companies and clinicians to conduct trials with anti-CTLA-4. Clinical trials in patients with metastatic melanoma demonstrated a survival benefit, which led to the approval of anti-CTLA-4 by the US Food and Drug Administration in March 2011. Anti-CTLA-4 represents a rationally designed mechanistic immunotherapy agent that is now a standard of care for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.  This seminal work led to the identification of another checkpoint, PD-1, which also enhances anti-tumor responses and has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma and several other types of cancer. Thus, Allison’s work opened a new field termed “immune checkpoint therapy” and other agents are being developed to target additional inhibitory or co-stimulatory T-cell molecules. Dr. Allison translated his research work on T cells into a breakthrough therapeutic modality that has transformed cancer treatment and is saving lives worldwide.

"I am humbled to be included among the illustrious scientists who have been honored by the Warren Alpert Foundation for their contributions to the treatment and cure of human disease in its 30+ year history. It is also recognition of the many investigators who have labored for decades to realize the promise of the immune system in treating cancer.”

James Allison