Stand Up to Cancer Awards E. John Wherry with "Convergence 2.0" Research Grant

March 9, 2018
Danielle Ternyila

Stand Up to Cancer has awarded E. John Wherry, PhD, cancer and immunology researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, with the “Convergence 2.0” research grant. Wherry will co-lead an 11-member team to investigate the immune system’s response to cancers.

E. John Wherry, PhD

Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) has awarded E. John Wherry, PhD, cancer and immunology researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, with the “Convergence 2.0” research grant. Wherry will co-lead an 11-member team to investigate the immune system’s response to cancers.

This initiative, called Connecting Immune Health and Tumor Biology in Gynecologic Cancers, will examine how immune responses vary between individuals when given different anti-cancer therapies. Their goal is to pinpoint any factors that may contribute to the response, then determine whether these factors will make a therapy effective or not.

Homing in on DNA mismatch repair, the team hypothesizes that tumors with high mutational burden fail to respond to checkpoint inhibitors because of an immune dysfunction in the mechanism for mismatch repair. Their trials will test for factors affecting responses to checkpoint inhibitors, the effect of immune function and quality on checkpoint inhibitors, and how blood markers reflect the tumor-immune system interaction.

Claire Friedman from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will be co-leading this effort with Wherry. Their team is comprised of colleagues including Robert Burger, MD, Daniel Powell, PhD, Shelley Berger, PhD, and Erica Carpenter, MBA, PhD.

The Perelman School of Medicine has ranked as one of the top 5 medical schools for over 20 years. Their researchers were granted a funding total of $405 million in the 2017 fiscal year. The school is part of Penn Medicine, one of the world’s leading academic medical centers.

Researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will also join Wherry’s team. Together, these researchers plan to identify successful treatments currently available as well as new treatments in development by conducting two clinical trials with funding from the “Convergence 2.0” grant.

As one of the most highly cited investigators in the field, Wherry will also collaborate on a study led by Ernest Fraenkel, MIT. Using artificial intelligence to integrate diverse types of data, the team plans to determine which patients are more likely to benefit from cancer immunotherapy.

As a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation established in 2008, SU2C aims to support new and collaborative efforts in cancer research. With goals of making new therapies available to patients more quickly, SU2C provides funding to researchers like Wherry. SU2C works closely with the Lustgarten Foundation and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer in support of the “Convergence 2.0” research grant.