Gabbay award given to scientists whose research brought about new cancer treatments

The prestigious honor went to Dario Campana and Michel Sadelain for their work on CAR T-cell therapy.

Dario Campana  and Michel Sadelain

Dario Campana, left, and Michel Sadelain

Two pioneering scientists whose research on CAR T-cell therapy has led to breakthrough treatments for cancer will receive this year's Jacob and Louise Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine.

This 2019 honorees are Michel Sadelain, the director of the Center for Cell Engineering at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), and Dario Campana, a professor of pediatrics at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The trustees of the Jacob and Louise Gabbay Foundation established the award in basic and applied biomedical sciences in 1998. It consists of a medallion and a $25,000 cash prize.

“The award is for scientific discoveries in the biotechnology area that have enabled medical breakthroughs. The CAR T-cell system is a prime example of this directive,” said Harold and Bernice Davis Professor of Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease Dagmar Ringe, who oversees the Gabbay Award selection process.

“The advances developed by these researchers provide a broad platform to enhance CAR T-cell therapy, leading directly to the development of new CAR T-cell therapies that are showing increasing efficacy in patients,” she added.

CAR T-cell therapy transforms the immune system's T cells so that they can attack cancer cells. It is one of the most promising of the new immunotherapy treatments that harness the body's immune system to fight tumors.

Sadelain, who holds the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair at MSKCC, has made the critical discoveries necessary to advance T-cell engineering from concept to practical application and has been uniquely responsible for many of the key advances that have made CAR-based therapies possible.  

Campana made one of the first clinical applications of CAR T-cell therapy possible by creating the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that was subsequently shown to be highly effective in treating patients with an aggressive form of leukemia.

Campana is also the director of the laboratory of immunopathology and cell therapy in the division of paediatric haematology and oncology at the National University Health System, an academic health-science center located in Singapore.

He has founded two biotech companies, Unum Therapeutics in Cambridge and Medisix Therapeutics in Singapore.

Sadelain and Campana will present lectures on their work at Brandeis in the fall, followed by a dinner and the formal presentation of the award.  

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