Public Release: 

Advances in cancer immunotherapy to be spotlighted at Dr. Paul Janssen Award Symposium

James P. Allison, PhD, Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center to be honored for his breakthrough work on cancer immunotherapies

New York Academy of Sciences

NEW YORK, September 4, 2018 - James P. Allison, PhD, the Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Research, and the Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center will be honored at the 2018 Dr. Paul Janssen Award Symposium, for his work on cancer immunotherapies that leverage the immune system to better fight cancer.

At the symposium, presented by the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research and the New York Academy of Sciences, today's leading experts will highlight recent advances in immuno-oncology, and discuss innovative strategies for optimizing cancer treatment. They include Elizabeth Mittendorf, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Matthew Mulvey, PhD, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson; Dana Pe'er, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Alexander Rudensky, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"I feel very honored to receive an award named for Paul Janssen, perhaps the most prolific inventor in the history of drugs to treat important human diseases," said Dr. Allison. "I am also very excited to participate in the symposium, where recent advancements and the promise of the bright future of immuno-oncology will be discussed."

Dr. Allison is best known for his leading role in the development of ipilimumab, the first immune checkpoint inhibitor approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This approval helped to establish the broader field of immunotherapy as a viable and effective strategy to treat cancer. Ipilimumab targets CTLA-4, a receptor that effectively turns "off" immune cells, and thereby allows the body's immune response to better target and kill cancer cells.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors like ipilimumab have been developed to treat a range of different cancers. The field of immunotherapy has grown to include several therapeutic strategies in various stages of development -- including cytokine therapy, cancer vaccines, and CAR-T cell treatments.

The symposium is sponsored by the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research and Johnson & Johnson and will be held at the New York Academy of Sciences headquarters, at 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday, September 13th from 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. The award was created by Johnson & Johnson in 2004 to honor the work of an active scientist, "who has made a significant, transformational contribution toward the improvement of public health." The recipient receives a gold and bronze sculpture and a $200,000 cash prize.

"Dr. Allison is a true champion of science," said Paul Stoffels, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. "His innovative approach to treating cancer through harnessing the power of the immune system has led to breakthrough therapies that are providing hope for patients around the world. It is with great pleasure that we honor his contributions and celebrate the power of scientific innovation to advance health for humanity."

"The Dr. Paul Janssen Award is one of the many ways in which Johnson & Johnson works to recognize and catalyze champions of science," said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Health and Science Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson. "With this multi-faceted public engagement initiative, we aim to fuel future innovators, translate the benefit of science for society through storytelling, and engage people of all generations and backgrounds to see the unlimited opportunities that science brings."

If you are interested in attending the 2018 Dr. Paul Janssen Award Symposium, register here for this free event.


About The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research

The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research was established by Johnson & Johnson to honor the memory of Dr. Paul Janssen -- one of the 20th century's most gifted and passionate pharmaceutical researchers, and to celebrate today's champions of science. Dr. Paul helped save millions of lives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines. The winners of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award are chosen by an independent selection committee of the world's most renowned scientists. Learn more at

About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at

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