JANUARY 31, 2020, New York— Ludwig Cancer Research extends a warm welcome to Robert Schreiber, the newest member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Schreiber is the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine. He is also the Director of the Washington University Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs and Co-Leader of the Tumor Immunology Program at Washington University’s Siteman Comprehensive Cancer Center. He joins a select group of leading cancer researchers who advise the Ludwig Institute’s Scientific Director Chi Van Dang on the organization’s strategic direction and emerging areas of cancer research, as well as on the progress and plans of Ludwig scientists.
“Bob’s discoveries have had a profound influence on our understanding of cancer biology, and his pioneering work on tumor immunology and the evolution of cancers has seeded a revolution in cancer care,” said Chi Van Dang, scientific director of the Ludwig Institute. “He continues to make significant contributions to the field, and I believe his creativity and incisive scientific mind will be a significant asset to Ludwig’s efforts to advance cancer research, prevention and care. The Scientific Advisory Committee will be enriched by his insights and advice.”
Schreiber is among a handful of scientists who helped lay the foundations of modern tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. Early in his career, Schreiber discovered that a factor known as interferon-γ (IFN-γ) plays a critical role in activating antimicrobial and anti-tumoral responses in immune cells known as macrophages. He went on to solve the structure and function of the cytokine’s cell-surface receptor and dissected the molecular mechanisms by which the receptor exerts its effects.
That work set him on a path of discovery that has since transformed cancer research and care. In partnership with Ludwig’s former Scientific Director and CEO, the late Lloyd Old, Schreiber demonstrated, through studies on mice in the early 1990s, that the immune system surveilles the body for cancer and can clear emergent malignancies. IFN-γ, they discovered, is the factor that prompts cancer cells to reveal themselves to the immune system, and the disruption of its signals helps cancer cells evade detection. The pair then went on to formulate and experimentally validate the concept of “immunoediting,” the drawn-out process by which the “immunosurveillance” of cancers drives their evolution into forms that resist immune clearance. These twin concepts are the theoretical basis of existing immunotherapies and ongoing efforts to improve their efficacy and applicability.
Schreiber’s laboratory continues to make notable contributions to tumor immunology and the development of personalized cancer vaccines, as well as other groundbreaking strategies for cancer immunotherapy. Schreiber, who also directs Washington University’s Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs, has published more than 300 peer reviewed papers and has received many awards for his contributions to biomedical science, including the Cancer Research Institute’s William B. Coley Award and the Balzan Prize. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research.