Thomas B Casale, MD

Thomas B Casale, M.D.

Dr. Casale joined the Division of Allergy/Immunology in 2013 as Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Chief of Clinical and Translational Research. He is also Chief Medical Advisor, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).

Prior, he was Professor of Medicine and Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Chief of Allergy/Immunology at Creighton University. He did an Allergy/Immunology fellowship at NIH, where he was chief medical staff fellow.

From 1984 to 1996, he was at the University of Iowa, where he attained the rank of Professor of Medicine and Director of Allergy/Immunology.

He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Thoracic Society, World Allergy Organization (WAO), American Board of Allergy and Immunology (Chair 2005), and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).

He is a Past President of the AAAAI and was the Executive Vice President for 10 years.

He has published over 450 scientific papers, reviews, and chapters primarily on asthma, COPD, and allergic diseases; organized and directed more than fifty CME programs for local and national meetings; and been a member of the planning committee for five World Asthma Meetings.

He has been on the editorial boards of multiple journals, including JACI, Annals of Allergy, JACI Practice, and European Respiratory Journal.

Jean-Paul Prieels, Ph.D

Jean-Paul Prieels, Ph.D

Jean-Paul Prieels holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. He started his industrial career at Petrofina in 1983 as a biotechnology manager and joined GSK Vaccines in 1987.

His responsibilities gradually expanded to lead the vaccine preclinical R&D development activities as Senior Vice President of Research and Development at GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium, until 2011.

His career spans from basic research to applied research and product development. He was instrumental in the development of several commercially available vaccines, including Rotarix, Cervarix, Synflorix, and Shingrix.

Today, he is director at NCardia, Nouscom, Leukocare, Bone Therapeutics, PDC*Line Pharma, and Quantoom Biosciences. He is a member of the scientific advisory board of CureVac, Imcyse, Univercells, Minervax, Icosavax, Inimmune, and a member of the European Vaccine Initiative Board of Stakeholders.

Dr. Sharma

Dr. Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D

Dr. Sharma is a nationally and internationally renowned physician-scientist whose research work is focused on investigating immunologic mechanisms and pathways that impact tumor rejection. She is a trained medical oncologist and immunologist and the T.C. and Jeanette D. Hsu Endowed Chair in Cell Biology.

Her expertise in Immunology and Genitourinary Medical Oncology enabled her to design and lead clinical trials with immune checkpoint therapy for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma and bladder cancer, which led to improved survival and approval of new treatments for these patients.

To understand the impact of immune checkpoint therapy on human immune responses and to generate preliminary data with immune checkpoint therapy in the localized disease setting, she designed and conducted the first neoadjuvant (pre-surgical) trial with immune checkpoint therapy (anti-CTLA-4) in 2004. These studies led her to identify the ICOS/ICOSL pathway as a novel target for cancer immunotherapy strategies. Clinical trials targeting the ICOS/ICOSL pathway are currently ongoing.

Dr. Sharma continues to design novel clinical trials to evaluate human immune responses to different immunotherapies and she is the Principal Investigator for multiple immunotherapy clinical trials that focus on translational laboratory studies. She was the first to demonstrate that human tumors express VISTA as an immunosuppressive pathway. Clinical trials targeting VISTA are currently ongoing.

She was also the first to demonstrate that anti-CTLA-4 plus inhibition of EZH2 can improve anti-tumor responses, which led her to design a new clinical trial with this combination. This clinical trial is currently accruing patients.

As a result of her expertise, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center established the Immunotherapy Platform. Dr. Sharma serves as the inaugural Scientific Director of the Immunotherapy Platform and she focuses her effort on a “reverse translation” process that encompasses studies on human immune responses to generate hypotheses related to mechanisms of tumor rejection, which she tests inappropriately designed pre-clinical models, and subsequently uses the new data to design novel clinical trials to improve outcomes for patients with cancer.

She is a Professor in the departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology and is also the Co-Director of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

She is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI); received the Emil Frei III Award for Excellence in Translational Research in 2016; the Coley Award for Distinguished Research for Tumor Immunology in 2018; and honored with the Women in Science with Excellence (WISE) award in 2020.

Dr. JP Allison

Dr. James Allison, Ph.D

Dr. James Allison is the Regental Chair and Professor of the Department of Immunology, the Olga Keith Wiess Distinguished University Chair of Cancer Research, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Research, and the Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

He has spent a distinguished career studying the regulation of T cell responses and developing strategies for cancer immunotherapy.

He earned the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Dr. Tasuku Honjo, “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.” Among his most notable discoveries are the determination of the T cell receptor structure and that CD28 is the major costimulatory molecule that allows full activation of naïve T cells and prevents energy in T cell clones.

His lab resolved a major controversy by demonstrating that CTLA-4 inhibits T-cell activation by opposing CD28-mediated costimulation and that blockade of CTLA-4 could enhance T cell responses, leading to tumor rejection in animal models.

This finding paved the wave for the emerging field of immune checkpoint blockade therapy for cancer.

Work in his lab led to the development of ipilimumab, an antibody to human CTLA-4 and the first immune checkpoint blockade therapy approved by the FDA.

Among many honors, he is a member of the National Academies of Science and Medicine and received the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award in 2015.

His current work seeks to improve immune checkpoint blockade therapies currently used by our clinicians and identify new targets to unleash the immune system in order to eradicate cancer.