Scientific Advisory

Professor Gu Jianren, born in 1932, is one of the leading scientists in Molecular Oncology. He is professor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Emeritus President of Cancer Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, President of Academic Committee of National Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, and supervisor to PhD students. He was elected member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 1994, and is member of the Presidium of CAE. Professor Gu graduated from Shanghai First Medical College (SFMC) in 1954. From 1979 to 1981, he worked as senior visiting scholar in Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow. From 1995 to 1999, he was member of International Award Assembly of General Motor Cancer Research Foundation. In the past 50 years, Professor Gu has devoted himself to cancer pathology, cancer biochemistry, molecular oncology and gene therapy for cancers. For the first time in the world, he reported alteration of a spectrum of genes involved in human hepatocarcino genesis and cancer development and was honored with State Science and Technology Award (Grade II) and also Ministry of Public Health Science and Technology Award (Grade I). He discovered a new high score LOH area in 17p13.3, which is proved to be the most frequent LOH area in human heptocarcinoma. Since 1998, he has initiated a new study of functional genomics, a high through-put screening of functional genes based on cell growth. Over 300 full length cDNA clones, either stimulating or inhibiting cancer cell growth, have been identified and registered for patent. He has also contributed to cancer gene therapy as a pioneer in China. The clinical trial on brain glioblostoma was the first clinical protocol approved by the State (SDA) in cancer gene therapy. He has creatively established a novel receptor-mediated non-viral gene delivery system. The patent of this system was awarded by USA (US6, 339, 139B1). He is one of the first honored Meritorious Researchers of Science and Technology in Shanghai, Model Staff of the National Health System. He is also awarded the National Labor Medal, Shanghai Medical Life Honorary Prize, Heliang-Heli Award for Advance in Science and Technology in 1997.
Wei-Qiang Gao, Ph.D. KC Wong Chair Professor,Dean of School of Biomedical Engineering of Shanghai Jiaotong University, Director of Med-X-Renji Hospital Stem Cell Research Center, Associate Dean of Med-X Research Institute, SJTU.  Prof. Wei-Qiang Gao received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1989 and did his post-doctoral research at Columbia University and the Rockefeller University. From 1993-2010, he had been a Scientist, Senior Scientist and Group/Project Leader at Genentech, Inc.. Dr. Gao has made important contributions to the fields of neuroscience, stem cells and tumorigenesis. In early 1990’s, he made important contributions to the mechanisms of cerebellar granule neuronal differentiation. His group then pioneered research on development and regeneration of inner ear hair cells at Genentech and changed the traditional view that mammalian inner ear hair cells cannot regenerate. He was invited to speak at the Nobel Conference “To Restore Hearing” sponsored by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden in 2002. More recently, his group worked on “stem cells and tissue regeneration” and “cancer research and cancer stem cells” and published a paper in Nature in 2008 to report for the first time that a single adult stem cell is capable of generating a functional prostate organ. Dr. Gao has published 46 papers as either corresponding or the first author, including Nature, Science, Cell, Neuron, PNAS, Nature Neuroscience, J. Neuroscience, Development, etc. and has been granted 48 US patents. He is a scholar of national “Thousand-Talents Program”, a recipient of ‘”Overseas Outstanding Young Investigators” award from the Natural Science Foundation of China, and the program head of a program project from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.
Stephan Grupp, MD PhD, is the Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, Director of Translational Research in the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the Yetta Dietch Novotny Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Stem Cell Transplant Section of the Division of Oncology and the Medical Director of the Stem Cell Laboratory. Dr. Grupp graduated from the University of Cincinnati after completing the MD/PhD program with a PhD in Immunology. He completed pediatric residency at the Boston Children’s Hospital, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and postdoctoral work in Immunology at Harvard University. He then joined the faculty at Harvard University until 1996, when he came to CHOP. His primary area of clinical research is the use of engineered cell therapies in high risk pediatric cancers, and he has led the largest and most successful engineered T cell therapy clinical trial conducted to date (CART19/CTL019 (1, 2)). His primary laboratory interest is the development of new cell therapy treatments for pediatric cancers and the molecular control of leukemic cell growth. Dr. Grupp is a reviewer for several journals and the author of over 120 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as numerous abstracts and book chapters.
Ezra Cohen, MD, is co-director of the Center for Precision Immunotherapy and an internationally renowned translational researcher. He has been acknowledged for his contribution to the National Cancer Institute Task Force on PI3 Kinase/AKT/mTOR Targeting. A physician-scientist, Dr. Cohen led an independently funded laboratory interested in mechanisms of action of novel therapeutics. He has made major contributions to targeted therapy. His recent National Institutes of Health-funded work in the study of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors in head and neck cancer has contributed to the understanding of the biology of this critical signaling network, integration of these agents into standard of care, and definition of mechanisms to overcome resistance. He was recently appointed as chair of the NCI Head and Neck Cancer Steering Committee that oversees NCI-funded clinical research (including all NCI Cooperative Group trials) in this disease.
Dr. Cohen is Associate Director for Translational Science and team leader in Solid Tumor Therapeutics research program. He brings his expertise and preeminent reputation in head and neck cancer research and patient care to solid tumor therapeutics. Among other roles, he chairs the Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee (PRMC) and serves as a member of the Cancer Council, C3 steering committee, and the cancer center’s Executive Committee. Dr. Cohen recently served as editor-in-chief of Oral Oncology, the highest impact specialty journal in head and neck cancer, and has recently chaired two Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposia—the largest international meeting of its kind—sponsored by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Head and Neck Society. He has been the principal investigator on multiple studies of novel agents in head and neck cancer and other solid tumors in all phases of development including chemoprevention, phase I, II, and III trials. Dr. Cohen has authored more than 120 papers and has presented his research at national and international meetings. In addition, he is Chair of the Career Development Subcommittee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and has served as a grant reviewer for the NIH, American Association for Cancer Research, American ociety of Clinical ncolo y and the ntario Institute for Cancer esearch.
Dr. Cohen completed residencies in Family Medicine at the University of Toronto and in Internal Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at the University of Chicago where he was named chief fellow. Prior to his arrival in San Diego, Dr. Cohen was Co-Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program, Associate Director for Education and Program Director for the Hematology/ Oncology Fellowship at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. A dedicated educator, Dr. Cohen also mentored and developed young faculty in his program.
Dr. Yee is a Professor in the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Department of Immunology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center and Director of the Solid Tumor Cell Therapy Program. He previously held the position of Professor at Division of Oncology at the University of Washington and a Member in Program in Immunology, Clinical Research Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He received  his medical degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada and trained as a research fellow at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto before continuing his medical residency at Stanford University. He went on to complete a fellowship in medical oncology and postodoctoral research studies at the University of Washington and  the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is a recipient of the Cancer Research Institute Investigator Award, Damon Runyon Walter Winchell Clinical Investigator Award and Burroughs Wellcome Scientist in Translational Research and elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He was appointed Director of Solid Tumor Cell Therapy, and Co-Director of the Adoptive Cellular Therapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is one of the original members of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and co-leader of the SU2C Dream Team in Immunology. He holds numerous US and Worldwide patents in the field of cancer immunotherapy. The Yee Lab has been developing adoptive cellular therapy as a treatment modality  for patients with cancer over the last 20 years. Dr. Yee’s research has been the pioneering force behind one form of adoptive cellular therapy known as ETC (Endogenous T Cell therapy) and is based on the isolation of autologous antigen-specific T cells from the peripheral blood, manipulation of immune modulating parameters to enhance effector function and persistence and their expansion to numbers sufficient for adoptive transfer. His lab has performed several first-in-human clinical studies of ETC using well-defined populations of ex vivo expanded antigen-specific T cells to delineate the requirements for effective immune-based therapies. His team has performed several seminal studies including the successful use of a patient’s own T-cells as the sole therapy to put advanced melanoma into long-term remission and first use of human central memory type T cells for adoptive therapy in combination with immune checkpoint blockade. With several book chapters and white paper reviews to his credit, Dr. Yee’s research has also been published in Science, Science Immunology,  New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine, Science Translational Medicine, PNAS, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Dr. Kaufman did undergraduate work at Stanford University and then completed an MD and PhD (Immunology) at the Mayo Medical/Graduate School (Rochester, MN). He then completed both residency and fellowship training at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Kaufman was faculty at University of Minnesota from 2002-2016. In 2016, Dr. Kaufman moved to UCSD to be a Professor in Department of Medicine, Division of Regenerative Medicine and Director of the Cell Therapy program. This position at UCSD includes development of a GMP lab to translate more cell-based therapy into clinical trials. Dr. Kaufman provides clinical care for patients with hematological malignancies, with special interest in BMT. He also leads a research lab that uses human pluripotent stem cells to study development of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, lymphocytes, and other mesodermal lineages. His research has developed a specific interest and expertise in use of natural killer (NK) cells for new clinical applications to treat relapsed/refractory cancers- both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. One main research focus is to use human pluripotent stem cells as a novel source of NK cells for clinical trials. This includes engineering these NK cells with novel receptors and other strategies to improve killing of cancer cells.
Dr. Ghassan Abou-Alfa is a globally renown medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal oncology, pancreas, gall bladder, and primary livery cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). He was the principal investigator of Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of Sorafenib, a treatment for primary liver cancer. He also served as the Director of Bile Duct Carcinoma Research at the National Cancer Institute. He has published over 100 peer reviewed articles in famous journals such as The Lancet.  Dr. Ghassan Abou-Alfa graduated from the American University in Beirut (AUB) and earned his medical degree before joining the Yale School of Medicine for his post-doctoral training in 1992. He completed his residency training on internal medicine and fellowship training on medical oncology/hematology at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Ghassan Abou-Alfa is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. In 2001, Dr. Ghassan Abou-Alfa started working at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.


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