Immunotherapy pioneer named one of TIME's most influential people
MD Anderson Chair of ImmunologyJim Allison, Ph.D., whose pivotal work to attack cancer by treating the immune system instead of the tumor, has been named to the 2017 TIME 100. His approach revived cancer immunotherapy and launched a completely new way to treat these diseases, improving patient outcomes and transforming the course of cancer research.
The list, now in its 14th year, recognizes the world’s most influential individuals. As TIME Editor-in-Chief Nancy Gibbs has said of the list: “Each year our TIME 100 list lets us step back and measure the forces that move us … . One way or another they each embody a breakthrough: they broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we're capable of.”
Allison’s breakthrough, stemming from his basic science research, liberates the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells – an approach called immune checkpoint blockade. This new class of drugs is saving the lives of significant numbers of patients with a variety of advanced cancers.
“I’m grateful to TIME for recognizing the increasing importance of immunotherapy as a new pillar of cancer treatment,” said Allison, who also is executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson. “We’re in the early days of successful cancer immunotherapy. Our next step is to extend these treatments to benefit more patients and our platform is intensely focused on making that a reality.”
MD Anderson’s Immunotherapy Platform analyzes blood samples and tumor biopsies taken before, during and after treatment to better understand response and resistance to treatment. The platform is part of the institution’s Moon Shots ProgramTM, which is designed to harness scientific knowledge and develop new technologies that will dramatically reduce cancer deaths through prevention, early detection and treatment.
Read more about the honor and Allison's research in the MD Anderson Newsroom.
How does cancer immunotherapy work?
Immunotherapy trains the immune system to attack cancer. This animated piece shows how it happens.
The curiosity-driven research of Jim Allison, Ph.D., led to a life-saving treatment approved for six late-stage cancers and in hundreds of clinical trials for additional cancers and earlier stages of disease.