Initiative Life Sciences

The Immunotherapy Dream Team

The Opportunity

Despite a four-decade war against cancer and over $150 billion in research investment, 5-year survival rates are virtually unchanged from 20 years ago in most types of cancer and in 2018, more than 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed and over 600,000 will die from it. In 2030, cancer is expected to surpass heart disease to become the leading cause of death in the United States.

Immunotherapy is the only approach that has ever demonstrated an ability to generate durable remissions even in advanced tumors but there are significant financial and organizational barriers to success. However, immunotherapy-related research will receive less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.9 billion cancer research budget in 2015 and at the same time, the pharmaceutical industry’s R&D pipeline remains significantly focused on novel chemo and “targeted” agents.

The Initiative

Through support from Sean Parker, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) formed an Immunology Translational Research Dream Team dedicated to cancer immunology — “Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade and Adoptive Cell Transfer in Cancer Therapy.” The Immunotherapy Dream Team is focused on two approaches for this translational cancer research project that will unite laboratory and clinical efforts to further the immunological treatment, control and prevention of cancer. The first is investigating blockades of lymphocytes inhibitory receptors, termed checkpoints, which inhibit immune responses, and where the checkpoints themselves are inhibited using antibodies, once again allowing white blood cells called T lymphocytes to kill the cancer cells. Second, The Immunotherapy Dream Team is pursuing multiple adoptive cell therapy or ACT approaches, which increase immunity.


Dr. Jim Allison, PhD, Dream Team Leader
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, Dream Team Leader
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Dr. Drew M. Pardoll, MD, PhD, Dream Team Co-Leader
  • Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Cassian Yee, MD, Dream Team Co-Leader
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. David Baltimore, PhD, Dream Team Principal
  • California Institute of Technology
Dr. Glenn Dranoff, MD, Dream Team Principal
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dr. Philip D. Greenberg, MD, Dream Team Principal
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Dr. Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, Dream Team Principal
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Ton Schumacher, PhD, Dream Team Principal
  • Netherlands Cancer Institute
Dr. Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, Dream Team Principal
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center