publication date: Oct. 5, 2018

Guest Editorial

Thank you, Jim Allison

Ronald DePinho

By Ronald A. DePinho

Professor & past president,

Harry Graves Burkhart III Distinguished University Chair,

Department of Cancer Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center


The year was 1998, location, Italian Alps. Jim and I were attending an intimate Pezcoller meeting organized by David Livingston. At that meeting, Jim presented something I had never seen in the entirety of my career—the eradication of cancer in mice following treatment with an antibody designed to inhibit a T cell checkpoint mechanism.

Afterwards, we talked about his provocative science and the potential of a new class of cancer drugs. As a physician scientist, I can vividly recall how deeply impressed I was with Jim’s intense passion to convert his science into a new medicine that could help cancer patients.

Years later, I learned that his intense drive for clinical impact was fueled by the loss of his mother when he was only 10 years old.

It took another 10 years for Jim’s dream to be realized. His drug for melanoma was approved, and early stage clinical trials showed signals of activity in other tumor types.

Fast forward another 7 years: Jim and his wife, Pam Sharma, a brilliant cancer immunology physician in her own right, were awakened at 5:30 a.m. by a call from his son proclaiming … Continue reading Thank you, Jim Allison

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