NOVEMBER 14, 2020, NEW YORK – Ludwig Cancer Research is proud to announce that the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research has received a Team Science Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). The award, which marks the SITC’s 35th anniversary as a scientific society dedicated to the advancement of cancer immunotherapy, recognizes research teams around the world that have made enduring contributions to the field. It was presented virtually to the Ludwig Lausanne team on November 14 by SITC President Mario Sznol.
“We are honored by the SITC’s recognition of the landmark research on basic and tumor immunology conducted at the Lausanne Branch over nearly five decades,” said Ludwig Lausanne Director George Coukos. “The Ludwig Lausanne team shares this recognition not only with our renowned predecessors, but also with many talented scientists here and abroad whose collaboration has been invaluable to our investigations of tumor immunology and ongoing efforts to translate our discoveries into novel immunotherapies.”
Established in 1973 under the leadership of the immunologist Jean-Charles Cerottini, the Lausanne Branch initially led studies on the development and functional diversification of the immune system’s T cells, which play a central role in targeting tumors. Work in this area also led to the development of methods to clone every type of T cell and assays for T cell function that were adopted worldwide.
The team subsequently conducted extensive research into the dynamics of T cell-mediated immune responses and the processing and presentation of antigens that activate these cells. In partnership with pioneering cancer immunologists at Ludwig Brussels, they parlayed that expertise into the identification of novel cancer antigens and the development of the first cancer vaccines. The antigens continue to be harnessed today for the development of numerous immunotherapies, and the methods developed at Ludwig Lausanne to monitor immune responses in patients enrolled in trials remain essential tools of the field.
Since 2012, under the directorship of George Coukos, the Lausanne Branch has continued its tradition of basic research while focusing its efforts in translational research on individualized T cell therapies and vaccines for cancer. Scientists at the branch have conducted groundbreaking investigations of such phenomena as the microenvironments and immune constituents of brain and ovarian tumors, the identification, evaluation and use of patient-specific “neoantigens” for individualized immunotherapy, and the mechanisms by which cancer metabolism undermines the anti-tumor immune response. These investigations have yielded novel strategies for cancer therapy.
In addition to scientists at the Lausanne Branch, several current and former Ludwig researchers were co-recipients of the award as members of other teams. One of those teams was led by Lloyd J. Old, the former CEO and chief scientific officer of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in New York. Old, who died in 2011, is widely considered a founding father of modern cancer immunotherapy. In addition, Ludwig Brussels, whose researchers identified the first spontaneously arising cancer antigens and helped launch the modern era of cancer immunotherapy, received the SITC Team Science award in 2010.
“We are gratified to see Ludwig’s seminal contributions to one of the most promising new strategies for cancer therapy recognized by this international award,” said Chi Van Dang, chief scientific officer of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. “Ludwig researchers continue to contribute significantly to the field, and we are confident that our efforts will, in time, bring new hope to cancer patients around the world.”