Gajewski receives $750,000 award from Burroughs Wellcome for cancer immunotherapy

April 1, 2000

Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago Hospitals has been awarded a Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The grant provides $750,000 over a period of five years beginning on July 1, 2000. Dr. Gajewski is one of 10 researchers from universities in the United States to have been awarded the grant this year.

"I was delighted to learn of receiving this award," says Dr. Gajewski. "The funding will enable us to further our efforts toward optimizing the immunotherapy treatments for cancer."

The awards are intended to foster the development and productivity of mid-career physician-scientists who will strengthen translational research--the two-way transfer between basic research and the treatment of patients--through their own studies as well as their mentoring of the next generation of physician investigators.

Dr. Gajewski has been awarded the grant to pursue his investigation of vaccines against a type of skin cancer called melanoma. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. If caught early, these cancers are highly treatable. But if left undiagnosed, melanoma can migrate to other organs causing a high rate of mortality.

Dr. Gajewski has developed experimental vaccines against melanoma that are currently in Phase II clinical trials in a handful of patients at the University of Chicago Hospitals. The vaccines are designed to induce the body to produce a powerful immune response against the melanoma cells, which potentially can lead to tumor eradication. Encouraging preliminary results have been seen in several patients.

Dr. Gajewski plans to use the grant support to improve upon current techniques through developing the next generation of melanoma vaccines for clinical investigation.

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