March 12, 2015



In case you missed it... The HBO documentary series, VICE, aired a special report February 27th entitled "Killing Cancer" detailing how viruses are being used successfully as biologic weapons against cancer.  The program highlighted three members of the ACGT community: 2013 Grantee, Dr. John Bell, for his work with oncolytic viruses; Scientific Advisory Council member, Dr. Stephen Russell, for his work with the measles virus; and 2004/2008 Fellow and Scientific Advisory Council member, Dr. Carl June, for his work with the HIV virus. Emily Whitehead, a young cancer patient who will attend our April Gala, is also prominently featured as a trial participant whose life was saved. Watch here.                 


Coming soon... Check your local PBS station for the March 30th through April 2nd four-night airing of documentarian Ken Burns' remarkable 10-part series on the history of cancer, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book "The Emperor of All Maladies" by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD. If preferable, you can listen to the program on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered starting March 23rd, also available at This is a first-time public media collaboration and an enlightening series of stories on the nature of cancer from earliest diagnoses to potential treatment options. Watch the trailer    

Precision Medicine, the core of cell and gene therapies, recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach to medical care, particularly with cancer, and uses a patient's genetic composition to develop specialized and targeted treatment. President Obama is requesting in his 2016 budget an increase of $215 million to launch a Precision Medicine Initiative to focus more aggressively on genetically based research, in order to dramatically advance the way we treat and manage cancer in the future. Read more here.



April 14 - 6:30 PM - Harvard Club, NYC


Invitations are in the mail and sponsorships still available for what promises to be an enlightening and exciting dinner honoring retiring Founding Chair of ACGT's Scientific Advisory Council, Dr. Savio L.C. Woo, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NYC. Very special guest speakers include: Bob Levis of Pennsylvania, who is cancer free after an immunotherapy trial, but only after he had come to the end of a long painful battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and was advised to prepare for his death; and the father of Emily Whitehead, a young girl whose life was saved from acute lymphoblastic leukemia by a similar breakthrough gene therapy treatment. Both treatments were based on research by ACGT scientist Dr. Carl June at University of Pennsylvania.  Contact Joshua Corday for additional information and to purchase tickets.



As Dr. Savio Woo steps down from his tenure as Founding Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council, Joseph Glorioso III, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Biochemistry at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is leading the charge to rapidly move bench research to clinical trials and towards medical practice. Dr. Glorioso, a member of the Council for ten years, is best known for his work on the use of viruses as a vector for transporting therapeutic genes to destroy cancer. "ACGT has pioneered breakthroughs in cell and gene therapies through support of discovery, and we now look forward to supporting more later-stage research."



Our 2015 Young Investigator grants move ACGT total grant funding over the $25 million mark. This is especially meaningful at a time when federal funding has been diminished and private funds difficult to secure, and when innovative solutions are crucial. The two three-year grants of $250,000 each were awarded to Meenakshi Hegde, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatric Hematology, Texas Children's Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, and Christopher Jewell, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, College Park. Both are investigating immune-mediations, with Dr. Hegde's focus on melanoma and Dr. Jewell's on harnessing lymph nodes as therapeutic agents. Both grantees hope to develop genetically modified T-cells to destroy tumors and vaccines to protect against cancer. Over the twelve years since inception, ACGT grants have funded discovery research and translational studies using several forms of cell and gene therapies and for many types of cancer. Grants range from $250,000 to $1million for three to five years and are reviewed and monitored by the ACGT Scientific Advisory Council. 



ACGT researcher Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, at Moore's Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, published in January in Human Gene Therapy a report on successfully using immune-mediated treatments to defeat lymphoma/leukemia. Dr. Kipps has received two ACGT grants over the years, totaling $1.75 million, which he considers crucial to his breakthrough research.


Swim Across America Logo Saturday, June 27th. Swim or boat in the 9th Annual Greenwich-Stamford Swim, or organize a pool swim, with all proceeds funding ACGT's cell and gene therapy research. Contact Joshua Corday to participate and for sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

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