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Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Announces 2019 Recipient of the Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Award and Lectureship
Date:3/23/2019

The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) is pleased to announce Olivera J. Finn, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Professor of Immunology and Surgery and Founding Chair of the university’s Department of Immunology, as the 2019 recipient of the Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Award and Lectureship, the society’s highest honor.

Dr. Finn, whose basic and applied research on tumor antigens and cancer vaccines have played an integral role in the advancement of immunotherapy, will be a featured presenter during the society’s 34th Annual Meeting in November at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD.

“Our 2019 Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award and Lectureship recipient, Dr. Olivera Finn, has made numerous discoveries regarding tumor antigens that support the development of various cancer immunotherapeutics,” said SITC President Mario Sznol, MD. “Specifically, her work to identify MUC1 as an immunogenic target has significantly propelled the development of cancer vaccines for the treatment of patients with breast, colon and pancreatic cancers. This, as well as her work investigating the role of tumor-associated antigens in immunosurveillance, has proven invaluable for the field overall. Dr. Finn is truly a cancer immunotherapy leader and pioneer, and we are honored to have her accept this award and present at SITC 2019.”

The research Dr. Finn conducted on tumor antigens and cancer vaccines, in particular vaccines for the prevention of non-viral cancers, has been published in over 170 articles and more than 70 reviews and book chapters. Through her leadership, the laboratory center at the University of Pittsburgh identified specific mechanisms of human anti-tumor immunity and cancer immunosurveillance, and were the first to identify a human tumor antigen recognized by human T cells and antibodies, the epithelial mucin MUC1. Their further studies supported multiple clinical trials of a MUC1 vaccine in patients with breast, colon and pancreatic cancer. Most recently, they began testing a MUC1 vaccine for cancer prevention in individuals diagnosed with MUC1+ premalignant lesions.

Dr. Finn obtained her PhD in Medical Microbiology at Stanford University in 1980 and completed her postdoctoral training in Immuno-Oncology there in 1982. Upon completion of her postdoctoral training at Stanford University, she started her research at Duke University and in 1991 moved to the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Finn currently participates in NCI study sections, serves on advisory boards of several cancer centers and sits on editorial boards of many cancer journals. She is a member of the American Association of Immunologists where she served as President from 1997-1998. She served two terms as Councilor of the International Union of Immunology Societies (IUIS) and is currently Chair of the IUIS Committee on Gender Equality and Career Development. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and founding member and past Chair of the Steering Committee of the Cancer Immunology (CIMM) Working Group. She is also a member of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).

The Smalley Memorial Award, established by SITC in 2005 and awarded annually to a clinician or scientist who has significantly contributed to the advancement of research in the field of cancer immunotherapy, is named in honor of the past SITC president and charter member of the society.

Previous recipients of the Smalley Award are: Philip D. Greenberg, MD; Paul M. Sondel, MD, PhD; Suzanne L. Topalian, MD; Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD; Giorgio Trinchieri, MD; Carl H. June, MD; Theresa L. Whiteside, PhD; Ralph M. Steinman, MD; James P. Allison, PhD; Isaiah J. Fidler; DVM, PhD; Giorgio Parmiani, MD; Ernest Borden, MD; Ronald Levy, MD, and Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD.

To learn more about this award, visit SITC CONNECT.

About SITC
Established in 1984, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) is a non-profit organization of medical professionals dedicated to improving cancer patient outcomes by advancing the development, science and application of cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology. SITC is comprised of influential basic and translational scientists, practitioners, health care professionals, government leaders and industry professionals around the globe. Through educational initiatives that foster scientific exchange and collaboration among leaders in the field, SITC aims to one day make the word “cure” a reality for cancer patients everywhere. Learn more about SITC, our educational offerings and other resources at sitcancer.org and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

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