Lieping Chen, Ph.D., the United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research and professor of immunobiology, of dermatology, and of medicine, is one of five scientists to receive the 2017 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for transformative discoveries in the field of cancer immunology. Collectively, the scientists’ work has elucidated foundational mechanisms in cancer’s ability to evade immune recognition and has altered the understanding of disease development and treatment. Their discoveries have led to the development of effective immune therapies for several types of cancer.
“The award is a great honor and a wonderful recognition of our work,” Chen said.
The other honorees are James Allison, Ph.D., of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Gordon Freeman, Ph.D., of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School; Tasuku Honjo, M.D., Ph.D., Kyoto University; and Arlene Sharpe, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School. The honorees will share a $500,000 prize and will be recognized at a day-long symposium on Oct. 5 at Harvard Medical School.
Each of the honorees contributed to understanding how tumor cells sabotage the body’s immune defenses. The notion that cancer and immunity are closely connected and that a person’s immune defenses can be turned against cancer is at least a century old. However, the definitive proof and demonstration of the steps in this process were outlined through findings made by the five honorees.
Collectively, their findings laid the foundation for antibody-based therapies as a way to unleash the immune system against cancer cells.
The Warren Alpert Foundation, in association with Harvard Medical School, honors trailblazing scientists whose work has led to the understanding, prevention, treatment or cure of human disease.