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ASH Awards the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize to Philip Greenberg, MD

Dylann Cohn-Emery
Published Online:4:26 PM, Fri August 9, 2019
Philip Greenberg, MD
Philip Greenberg, MD
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) has chosen Philip Greenberg, MD, to receive the 2019 E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize for his work in immunotherapy.

Greenberg will present his award lecture, entitled “The Long Road to Develop Adoptive Therapy with T Cells That Can Effectively Target Acute Myeloid Leukemia [AML] and Other Malignancies” at the 61st ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition on December 9 in Orlando, Florida. His lecture will cover how getting high-dimensional data using single-cell genomics provides insight into the reasons behind successes and failures for patients, how T cells have been engineered to target AML and mediate clinical benefit, and how these studies will help create the next generation of therapies.

“It is a great honor to receive this prize, and in particular an award named after E. Donnall Thomas, MD, who was a mentor, colleague, and friend,” Greenberg said in a statement. “Dr Thomas recruited me to the research group at Fred Hutch in 1976, after I had completed training in basic immunology. At the time, I told him that I thought we would eventually be able to do away with bone marrow transplantation and replace it with T cells that specifically target cancer. Now, we are getting increasingly close to making that rather brash statement a reality.”

Greenburg is head of the Program in Immunology at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a professor of medicine and immunology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

He is well known for his research on the development of T-cell adoptive immune therapy. He also created the concept, as well as the methods and technologies, with the help of lab member Stanley Riddell, MD, of isolating antigen-specific T cells in a laboratory and reproducing them to be able to observe in vivo their antitumor activity.

His work has helped researchers understand the biology of T cells, how they function, and what could interfere with their activity. Starting with animal models, Greenberg used T-cell treatments in patients with severe viral infections, and he is now directing this approach to treat patients with AML and solid tumors in clinical trials.

“CAR T-cell therapy strategies would not be as advanced today without the vision, creativity, and scientific rigor of Dr Greenberg and his research team, and he continues to innovate and lead the evolution of these therapies,” 2019 ASH president Roy Silverstein, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, stated in a press release.

Greenberg was elected into the Academy of the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Association of Immunologists in 2019. He was also received honors such as the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award and Lectureship in 2018 and the 2011 Cancer Research Institute’s William B. Coley Award for distinguished research in tumor immunology.

Over the years, he has published 284 peer-reviewed publications and chapters in journals such as Blood, Nature of Communications, Nature Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, and Science. He has also trained and mentored the next generation of leaders in the field of cellular immune therapy.

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