Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, Earns NCI Outstanding Investigator Award

Paul Sondel, MD, PhD
Above: Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, received a
National Cancer Institute Outstanding
Investigator Award for his research on
immunotherapy for childhood cancer.

In August 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, an inaugural Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA) for his project, "Enhancing Antibody-directed Innate Immunity to Improve Cancer Outcome.”

The seven-year, $6M award will enable Dr. Sondel and co-investigators, including Jacquelyn Hank, PhD, Alexander Rakhmilevich, MD, PhD, KyungMann Kim, PhD, Erik Ranheim, MD, PhD, and Mark Albertini, MD, to collaborate on important research initiatives dedicated to the mutual goal of finding better treatments, via immune mechanisms, for cancer.

The research team has tested combinations of immunotherapies in mice, and has moved the most effective approaches into clinical treatment so they benefit patients, including children with neuroblastoma. The group is now testing new combinations of immunotherapies that should each act in different ways, but are expected to be more effective when combined. The ultimate goal is to identify and refine combinations of "off the shelf" immunotherapies that can effectively eliminate cancer and prolong life for cancer patients worldwide.

“Our goals are large,” noted Dr. Sondel. “Immunotherapy, which activates a patient’s own immune cells, has the potential to become an ideal cancer therapy: tumor-specific, able to eradicate primary tumors and metastases, prevent recurrence and have no side effects. Our research teams will identify and refine combinations of immunotherapies to move this science forward towards better treatment.”

The OIA is designed to support funded investigators who have outstanding records of productivity and achievement in cancer research. It allows them the flexibility to embark on long-term, transformative projects of unusual potential in cancer research; the opportunity to take greater risks and be more adventurous in their lines of inquiry; and sufficient time to develop new approaches to the most pressing problems in cancer research.

Michael C. Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA, Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI), also received an OIA at the same time as Dr. Sondel. (Read related story)