Keynote Speakers

Monday, March 12th – 1:30-2:30 pm


Dr. Jedd Wolchok

Dr. Jedd Wolchok

Topic:  Immunologic checkpoint blockade: Exploring combinations and mechanisms

Given the activity noted with both CTLA-4 or PD-1 blockade, clinical trials are now investigating combination checkpoint blockade. The most mature data with a combination of ipilimumab + nivolumab in melanoma showed a response rate of 60% in the context of increased, yet manageable toxicity. Such responses are generally durable, even when treatment was stopped early for toxicity. Unlike in studies of PD-1 blockade monotherapy, there was no significant difference in clinical activity based on tumor expression of PD-L1. This approach has gained regulatory approval for metastatic melanoma and is in late stage clinical trials for other malignancies. Attention is being paid to the reasons underlying the efficacy of checkpoint blockade in certain malignancies. One hypothesis has been that cancers having a high mutational load may be more amenable to immune modulation by virtue of the larger number of potential neo-epitopes present, fostering baseline immune recognition that can then be potentiated by checkpoint blockade. We have found that melanoma patients having long term clinical activity with ipilimumab have a significantly greater median number of non-synonymous passenger mutations, compared with patients who do not respond or those who have only short-term regression. Strategies to enhance baseline immune reactivity are therefore necessary to investigate as means to improve the impact of checkpoint blockade on a broad spectrum of cancers. The presence of suppressive myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment also is emerging as a mechanism of resistance to the anti-tumor activity for checkpoint blockade. Strategies to overcome this include inhibition of CSF-1R signaling, IDO activity and selective suppression of PI3K-g.

Dr. Wolchok is chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). His insight and innovation have placed him at the leading edge of cancer immunotherapy in two different roles:  An active clinician-scientist exploring innovative immunotherapeutic strategies in laboratory models, and a principal investigator in numerous pivotal clinical trials. His specific research interest is the pre-clinical and early clinical development of novel immunologic therapies. Most recently, Dr. Wolchok has initiated several clinical trials using plasmid DNA vaccines for patients with melanoma. He’s been involved in the development of the DNA vaccine program at every level – from initial studies in mouse models, through all levels of regulatory review, and now as principal investigator of the clinical trials.

Sunday, March 11th – 1:30 – 2:30 pm


Dr. Kevin Hay

Kevin Hay works in the Turtle Lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington on May 23, 2017.

Topic:  CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor-modified (CAR)-T cells for the treatment of relapsed/refractory B cell malignancies

Dr. Kevin Hay is a postdoctoral research fellow in cellular immunotherapy at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. In 2008, Dr. Hay received a master’s degree in immunology from the University of Manitoba, followed by an M.D. in 2011. After a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology at the University of British Columbia, he came to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2016 to work with Dr. Cameron Turtle. Dr. Hay’s research focuses on understanding the unique toxicities associated with chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cells and the development of novel CAR-T cell therapies.