Cancer immunotherapy expert Dr. Martin ‘Mac’ Cheever of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on Nov. 9 was awarded the first-ever Distinguished Service Award from the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer. The award honors Cheever’s work establishing and directing the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network.
The federally funded network, often known by its acronym, CITN, conducts early-stage, multicenter clinical trials of promising immunotherapy agents for people with various cancers. Fred Hutch houses the network’s Central Operations and Statistical Center and its Immune Monitoring Lab.
According to the society, “Without the CITN trials and Dr. Cheever's leadership and vision, patients would not have access to these promising experimental drugs.” The honor was presented at the society’s annual meeting, held Nov. 6-10 in National Harbor, Maryland.
The goal of the CITN’s trials is to provide proof of concept of new immunotherapies, so the most promising can advance in the clinical trials pipeline toward patients in need.
Highlights of recent CITN trials include a study showing that, in nearly all cases, it is safe to use a cancer immunotherapy drug known as pembrolizumab (Keytruda) to treat HIV-positive cancer patients and a trial of the same drug that provided a much-needed new treatment option to patients with a deadly skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.
Susan Keown was a staff editor and writer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center from 2014-2022 who has written about health and research topics for a variety of research institutions. Find her on Twitter @sejkeown.