The field of cancer immunotherapy, which uses the body's own defenses — the immune system — to battle tumor cells is at an "inflection point," Sean Parker, philanthropist and technology entrepreneur, has said. To propel it forward, the Parker Foundation will formally announce today the launch of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at a celebrity-laden event in Los Angeles.
Stanford Medicine will be one of the institute's six university-based research centers, an announcement that was marked with celebration on the Stanford campus. Dean Lloyd Minor, MD, who is attending the day's festivities in L.A., remarked:
This unprecedented institute captures the essence of our vision for precision health, which is allowing us to use immunotherapy and other approaches to prevent diseases like cancer before they strike — and cure them decisively if they do. We are thrilled to partner in this initiative with the Parker Foundation and our peers, working together with them to bring about a better future for cancer patients everywhere.
The institute will begin with an initial $250 million; in the first year, Stanford Medicine will receive $10 million. Crystal Mackall, MD, a professor of pediatrics and of medicine, will lead the Stanford center. Formerly head of the Immunology Section of the National Cancer Institute, Mackall, shown above, specializes in T cell homeostasis, or the maintenance of a healthy number and diversity of these immune cells. The new institute offers "unparalleled opportunities to improve outcomes for cancer patients," Mackall said, continuing:
The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy uses an innovative model to increase financial, technological and intellectual property resources available to cancer researchers. The Parker-Stanford partnership will create a powerful synergy that will enable the deep scientific and clinical resources within Stanford Medicine to be rapidly and efficiently translated in new immunotherapies for patients with cancer.
The institute also includes partnerships with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as well as with health non-profits. Stanford Medicine is expected to additional grants in coming years.
Previously: Stanford's Ronald Levy offers peek at future of cancer therapy, How cancer stem cells dodge the immune system and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker establishes allergy center at Stanford
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben