Immunotherapy Workshop

Challenges and progress in veterinary cancer immunotherapy


This 3 hour mini-workshop is designed to be as interactive as possible, and will be facilitated by colleagues who have worked or are actively working with cancer immunotherapy in veterinary medicine, with the intent to bring safe and efficacious products to market.  After introductions and opening statements, including “I think” statements (having facilitators share an opinion about immunotherapy), attendees will be provided worksheets for self-assessment.  Facilitators will circulate to help answer questions.  These are designed as fill-in-the-blank diagrams and algorithms so that attendees can develop a sense of where the strengths and weaknesses are in their knowledge base.  They also will provide a framework for the ensuing discussion, and attendees can use worksheets to make notes about where certain therapies and approaches that are being developed will fit into the complex arena of tumor-immune system interaction.

The facilitators will then sit on a panel for an open discussion which will be prompted and guided by some predetermined questions, leaving ample time for questions from the audience, and for expanding upon topics as dictated by the discussion.

After a break, the workshop will conclude with structured activities to give attendees an expanded skill set for critical evaluation of immunotherapy literature, and to consider other novel aspects of cancer immunotherapy.

As a prelude, Dr. Jedd Wolchok will open the conference with his keynote speech immediately prior to the workshop, and as an afterlude, Dr. Bruce Thomsen from the USDA will deliver a state-of-the-art talk discussing the process and challenges of bringing these therapies to market.

Workshop Facilitators

Dr. Steven Dow received his DVM at the University of Georgia, followed by an internal medicine residency at Colorado State University, after which he completed a PhD in Ed Hoover’s lab at CSU, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Terry Potter at National Jewish Hospital.  His research focused originally on the use of non-specific immunotherapy using superantigens and liposome-DNA complexes for generating anti-tumor immunity.  After joining the faculty at the Animal Cancer Center at CSU, his lab has focused their work on targeting myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment, as well as the development of cancer stem cell-targeted vaccines.  Most recently, his laboratory has been developing checkpoint molecule therapeutics for cancer immunotherapy in dogs and investigating the role of PD-L1 expression by tumor associated macrophages in regulation of tumor immunity.


Dr. Phil Bergman is the Director of Clinical Studies for VCA.  He is an adjunct faculty member of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the principal veterinary investigator for the canine melanoma vaccine (Oncept®), which was fully licensed in 2009.  Prior to Dr. Bergman joining VCA, he served as the Chief Medical Officer for BrightHeart Veterinary Centers from 2007 to 2011; from 1999 – 2007 he was the head of the Donaldson-Atwood Cancer Center at AMC.  After finishing veterinary school from Colorado State in 1990, he was an intern at Kansas State (‘90-‘91) and returned to CSU for his medical oncology residency (‘91-‘94) and then completed a PhD Fellowship in human cancer biology from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (‘94-‘99).  He was previously Chair of the ACVIM Board of Regents and President of the Veterinary Cancer Society.


Dr. Jaime Modiano completed his veterinary training and PhD in Immunology through the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a residency in Veterinary Clinical Pathology at Colorado State University and a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. He served on the faculty of Texas A&M University and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center before joining the University of Minnesota. Dr. Modiano holds the Alvin and June Perlman Endowed Chair of Animal Oncology and is the Director of the Animal Cancer Care and Research Program of the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.

Since his time as a graduate student, Dr. Modiano has been intrigued by mechanisms that control lymphocyte activation and cell cycle progression; in particular, he remains driven to understand how T-cells are silenced in health and disease. His research extends to areas of cancer genomics and pathobiology, generally retaining an “immunology flavor.” The current emphasis in his laboratory is to understand the roles of the immune system in the pathogenesis or cancer and other chronic, lifelong diseases, and to translate this basic research into clinical applications that improve the health and wellbeing of companion animals and humans.


Dr. Nicola Mason is a board certified veterinary internist and immunologist with extensive experience in the performance of immunotherapy clinical trials and evaluation of immunological responses in dogs with spontaneous cancer. She graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, and performed her internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. After passing her Internal Medicine Boards, Dr. Mason completed a PhD in Immunology at Penn and performed her postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Carl June. Her she worked on developing the canine model for evaluating chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies. She has successfully translated several promising strategies to generate anti-tumor immunity from the lab and pre-clinical murine models into client owned dogs with lymphoma, osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma. Her work with Dr. Yvonne Paterson, Professor of Microbiology at the UPENN School of Medicine, pioneering the translation of a live, recombinant HER2 targeting Listeria into dogs with spontaneous osteosarcoma earned her the inaugural One Health Award, together with Dr. Paterson in 2013. Dr. Mason has been actively involved in evaluating the immunological consequences of immune–based therapies in client owned dogs for over 10 years, and she has extensive experience in flow cytometric phenotyping of canine T cells and functional assays including ELISpot and cytotoxicity assays to investigate canine T cell responses. Her in vitro and in vivo work with RNA transfected CD40-activated B cells and recombinant Listeria technology has shown that tumor-specific immune responses can be generated and effectively measured ex vivo in dogs with spontaneous cancers. Both systems, first brought into the canine clinic by Dr. Mason, represent robust platforms to induce and evaluate antigen specific immune responses in dogs and determine their safety and therapeutic efficacy. Dr. Mason’s lab actively works to develop and validate diagnostic and therapeutic reagents for dogs including anti-canine antibodies, canine scFv phage display libraries and canine CAR T cells. Her lab has developed multiple SOPs for the use of these and other reagents in the laboratory and canine clinic. Dr. Mason also leads the recently formed NIH/NCI funded Coordinating Center for Canine Cancer Immunotherapy Trials.