Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, recognized with Pandolfi Award for Women in Cancer Research

Teresa Herbert 617-667-7305, therbert@bidmc.harvard.edu

OCTOBER 31, 2018

Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, recipient of the 2018 Pandolfi Award for Women in Cancer Research (center), with Dinah Singer, PhD (left) and Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD (right)

BOSTON – Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recognized for her significant contributions to the field of immuno-oncology with the Pandolfi Award for Women in Cancer Research at the 11th Annual Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Cancer Symposium sponsored by the Cancer Center at BIDMC.

Sharma was selected for the award following a peer-review process of colleagues in the cancer community to recognize the achievements of outstanding women in cancer research. She is the second honoree, following Johanna Joyce, PhD, of the Swiss Cancer Center Lausanne at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, who was recognized in 2017.

“This award is very personal to me and I want to formally honor the achievements of women in science,” said Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC and host of the annual event, referring to the impact his career mentors and colleagues have had.  “What’s especially impressive about Dr. Sharma is that her work as a physician-scientist straddles the intersection of patient care and research.  If we want to move from the Standard of Care to the Standard of Cure we need to rapidly translate our research milestones into clinical breakthroughs, and Dr. Sharma’s career provides a model for this paradigm. Through creative back-and-forth between bench work and clinical trials, Dr. Sharma has made rapid strides in our understanding and treatment of cancer.”

Dr. Sharma — an oncologist specializing in the treatment of renal, bladder, and prostate cancers — focuses on understanding the complex interactions between tumors and their microenvironments, specifically the immune system. Sharma was the first to observe that anti-CTLA4 therapy increases the frequency of T cells that express the co-stimulant ICOS. She showed that ICOS-positive T cells were necessary for the optimal destruction of the tumor cells and that the ICOS molecule and its ligand ICOS-L are crucial players in optimizing antigen responses mediated by anti-CTLA4 antibody. She continues to identify new therapeutic opportunities in immuno-oncology, such as the VISTA inhibitory pathway in prostate tumors after anti-CTLA4 therapy.

During her award lecture, Sharma spoke about response and resistance mechanisms to immune checkpoint therapy and the need to move between the laboratory and the clinic to expedite positive clinical results. “Immune checkpoint therapy has joined the ranks of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as a pillar of cancer treatment,” she said. “Multiple checkpoints exist and are dynamic in their expression so they should be evaluated in both pre- and on-treatment human tumor samples to guide therapeutic decisions.” She added that these clinical trials provide a platform to study the biologic effects in patients, which in turn provides insights into the mechanisms that can be targeted for combining therapies.

The annual Standard of Cure Cancer Symposium showcases the progress toward the shared goal of eradicating cancer by featuring presentations on the latest cancer research findings from Cancer Center at BIDMC researchers as well as others nationally and globally.

 

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding.

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