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LSUHSC's Rodriguez receives cancer immunotherapy Presidential Award

New Orleans, LA Paulo C. Rodriguez, PhD, Assistant Professor Research of Microbiology, Immunology & Parasitology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans' Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, was selected as the 2013 recipient of the Presidential Award by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). Established in 1991, the SITC Presidential Award is the most prestigious of the young investigator awards in immunotherapy, which are based upon excellence in quality of research and presentation, the strength of results and methods, and whether the reported research significantly advances the field of cancer immunotherapy. From among four candidates, the SITC leadership selects the young investigator making the most outstanding oral presentation of his/her work at the annual meeting to receive its Presidential Award. The award was presented to Dr. Rodriguez during the SITC 28th Annual Meeting, November 7 - 10, 2013.

Dr. Rodriguez's award-winning research identified a potential new therapeutic approach to make T cells, key cells of the immune system, resistant to the suppressive effect caused by tumors. T cells are a type of white blood cell that help the body fight infection and diseases, including cancer. Although it is known that cancer cells inactivate T cells, allowing tumors to grow unchecked, understanding how to prevent and overcome this process has been limited. Dr. Rodriguez studied the role of Notch, a family of receptors, in the suppression of T cell responses in cancer. By manipulating Notch-1 in transgenic mice with cancer, he found that increasing active Notch-1 levels in tumor-specific T cells dramatically enhanced their anti-tumor activity and rendered them resistant to immune suppression caused by tumors. Dr. Rodriguez's findings suggest that Notch-1 may be an effective new therapeutic approach for T cell-based immunotherapy.

In addition to two National Institutes of Health grants, Dr. Rodriguez's research is also supported by the Copeland/LSUHSC Partnership in Viruses, Cancer and Immunotherapy.


Contact: Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

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