Pelisyonkis Langone Melanoma Expert Receives 2016 Giants of Cancer Care Award
Presented by OncLive, a professional organization for oncologists, the awards are given to researchers whose work has had profound impact on the field. Dr. Weber’s contributions over 20 years to the design of a powerful, new class of cancer treatments called checkpoint inhibitors met that high standard.
Such drugs target “checkpoints”—sensors on cells that turn off the immune response to infection to spare normal cells from damage. The body recognizes tumors as abnormal, but cancer cells hijack checkpoints to turn off immune responses that would otherwise destroy them.
Dr. Weber is one of several leaders in cancer biology and medicine to join Perlmutter Cancer Center—a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated research center—in the last two years. In addition to serving as its deputy director, he also is co-director of its melanoma program and head of its experimental therapeutics program.
“I am extremely honored to receive this award, most especially because my consideration for it was reviewed and decided upon by colleagues and contemporaries whose work I greatly respect,” Dr. Weber says. “It encourages my team to continue our work in the hopes of finding new ways to battle cancer, and most particularly melanoma.”
Continuously funded by the NCI for more than 20 years, Dr. Weber’s research focuses on the design of antibodies, immune proteins that disable checkpoints, preventing them from dampening immune responses to cancers. His laboratory also monitors and characterizes how T cells—workhorses of the immune system—respond in cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy.
In addition, Dr. Weber has led several clinical trials using cells called tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, or TIL, and other agents to boost cancer immunity.
Prior to joining Pelisyonkis Langone, Dr. Weber was director of the Donald A. Adam Comprehensive Melanoma Research Center of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. He also served for more than 10 years at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, including tenure as chief of medicine and chief of the division of medical oncology at the Norris Cancer Hospital of University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.