Our advisors


George Demetri, MD

Professor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Professor Demetri is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Co-Director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard, and Associate Director for Clinical Sciences at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Professor Demetri has interests in developing rationally targeted anticancer therapeutics through fundamental research in cancers, with an emphasis on molecularly defined diseases such as GIST and other mesenchymal malignancies.

Professor Demetri has served as clinical or scientific advisor to several companies including Plexxikon, G1 Therapeutics and Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, and he is a member of the Board of Directors as well as the Scientific Advisory Board of Blueprint Medicines. He received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard College and his Medical Degree from Stanford University School of Medicine, after which he trained in Internal Medicine with chief residency at the University of Washington Hospitals in Seattle. He is co-chair of the medical advisory board of the Sarcoma Foundation of America, and a member of the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research and the Hope Funds for Cancer Research.

Douglas T Fearon, MD, FRCP, FRS

Professor Fearon is Emeritus Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology at the University of Cambridge, and Head of the Division of Immunology in the Department of Medicine of the School of Clinical Medicine.

Prior to this, he was Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999, a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2001, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998. He is now working on tumour immunology.

Stephen D. Gillies, PhD

President and CEO, Provenance Biopharmaceuticals

Dr Gillies is CSO of Alopexx Oncology and Founder and CEO of Provenance Biopharmaceuticals corp. His current interests include clinical development of a novel immunotherapeutic agent for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other B-cell cancers. Prior to founding Provenance, Dr Gillies led all scientific and business endeavours of Lexigen Pharmaceuticals Corp. After Lexigen was acquired in 1999 by Merck KGaA, Dr Gillies had responsibility for oversight Merck's Global Oncology pre-clinical research.

He was previously Vice President of Research at Damon Biotech and Abbott Biotech Inc., where he oversaw development of recombinant antibodies and of pro-urokinase, an anti-clotting protein. Dr Gillies’ postdoctoral fellow research at MIT was a key part of the commercial success of Erbitux, a cancer drug marketed by Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Merck KGaA. A second antibody created by Dr Gillies gained market approval in March 2015 for treatment paediatric neuroblastoma. As part of his recombinant antibody project work, Dr. Gillies invented and developed immunocytokine (antibody-cytokine fusion protein) technology and leveraged, through his academic network, the first clinical proof of concept of this approach.

Sergio Quezada, PhD

Group Leader, Immune Regulation and Tumour Immunotherapy Lab

Dr Quezada earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the P. Universidad Católica de Chile and a PhD from Dartmouth Medical School, where his research focused on the mechanisms for the induction of transplantation tolerance. Working with Dr Randy Noelle at Dartmouth, Dr Quezada developed a model to study anti-CD154 graft tolerance and made several fundamental contributions to the understanding of the immune regulation and mechanisms of transplantation rejection and tolerance.

In 2004, Dr Quezada joined the laboratory of Dr James Allison at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he has carried out postdoctoral research aimed at understanding the mechanisms governing anti-tumour T-cell immunity and how these mechanisms can be manipulated for the generation of potent anti-tumour immune responses.

In November 2011, Dr Quezada joined the University College London Cancer Institute in the United Kingdom as head of the Immune Regulation and Tumour Immunotherapy group.

A Cancer Research Institute fellow from 2005 to 2008, Dr Quezada has also been the recipient of a John W. Strohbern Medal, the Sunny-Plattsburgh Basic Science Research Fellowship, and, most recently, the CRUK Career Development Fellowship. Since 2006, Dr Quezada has been a young investigator member of the Millennium Nucleus on Immunology and Immunotherapy of the Chilean Ministry of Planning and has served as an external evaluator for the Chilean National Science and Technology Research Fund.

Neil H Segal, MD, PhD

Oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Neil H Segal, MD, PhD, is a medical oncologist who specialises in the treatment of patients with gastrointestinal cancers. His research focus is on the development of new therapies. In particular, he is investigating innovative ways to use the immune system to treat cancer. He received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and he completed his residency at NYU Medical Center.

Kenneth Smith, MBBS, PhD, FRACP, FRCPA, FRCP, FHEA, FMedSci

Professor of Medicine, University of Cambridge

Professor Smith became Head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge in 2010. He is Professor of Medicine and a consultant Nephrologist and Clinical Immunologist.

Professor Smith leads a laboratory in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research which studies defects in regulatory control of the immune system that can lead to autoimmunity and alter defence against infection. He also runs a translational programme in autoimmune disease (particularly SLE and vasculitis) that has led to the discovery of a novel prognosis-predicting biomarker now entering clinical trials, and the identification of genes involved in disease pathogenesis.

Mark Smyth, PhD, FAHMS

Senior Scientist, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

Professor Mark Smyth is a Senior Scientist and Immunology Coordinator at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. He completed his PhD in 1988 and trained at the NCI (1988-1992), before commencing his independent research career in Australia. Over the last 15 years he rekindled world-wide interest in cancer immune surveillance, defined immune-mediated dormancy of cancer, and the role of the host in chemotherapy responses in mice and humans. More recently, he has provided new means of classifying natural killer cell (NK) subtypes and two new targets for cancer immunotherapy in CD73 and CD96.

The Immunology in Cancer and Infection Laboratory that he leads focuses upon advancing our understanding of the basic principles underlying an immune response to cancer and infection. Their aim is to further understand these processes at the molecular level, with particular emphasis on the role of the innate immune system, in particular, NK cells and gamma-delta T-cells. Their findings are being used to develop more effective biological and cellular therapies for human cancer.

E. John Wherry, PhD

Professor of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania

Professor Wherry is in the Department of Microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. A major goal of his laboratory is to understand the mechanisms of T-cell exhaustion and to develop approaches to reinvigorate the immune system in settings where it fails, including chronic infections and cancer. His group is using a variety of approaches, including multiparameter flow cytometry, systems biology, global gene expression profiling and genetically modified mice, to define cellular and transcriptional pathways involved in T-cell exhaustion and normal memory T-cell differentiation.

Following his PhD from Thomas Jefferson University in 2000, Professor Wherry did postdoctoral research at Emory University under Rafi Ahmed. In 2005, he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Immunology Program at The Wistar Institute and joined University of Pennsylvania’s Microbiology Department in 2010. In October 2012, Professor Wherry was appointed Director of the Penn Institute for Immunology, whose mission is to advance our knowledge of the basic immunology of inflammation, autoimmunity, cancer, transplantation and infection and to translate this new knowledge to novel strategies for diagnosis, prevention and therapeutic intervention.

Blood disorders

Alexander (Hal) Drakesmith

Associate Professor of Immunology, Weatherall Institute Molecular Medicine

Following a PhD in cellular immunology with Peter Beverley in London, Professor Drakesmith moved to Oxford to work with Alain Townsend on the function of the HFE gene, mutants of which had recently been identified as causing hereditary haemochromatosis. The sequence and structural similarity of the HFE protein and MHC proteins suggested there are evolutionary and molecular links between immunity and iron metabolism. This theme was reinforced by the subsequent discovery of hepcidin, a small peptide resembling anti-microbial defensins, but which is now considered to be the master hormonal regulator of iron homeostasis.

Professor Drakesmith's team is defining how hepcidin is modulated during infections, by testing which aspects of pathogen recognition by the host influence hepcidin synthesis. Their aim is to assess whether deliberately altering hepcidin can control experimental infections of iron-requiring bacterial strains.

Professor Drakesmith and colleagues have made important contributions to our understanding of the role of hepcidin in human genetic disease, in paediatric anaemia, in infection, including malarial anaemia, and in elaborating hepcidin as a diagnostic tool.

Iain Macdougall, BSc (Hons), MB, ChB, MD, FRCP

Consultant Nephrologist and Professor of Clinical Nephrology, King's College Hospital

Professor Macdougall's interest is the anaemia associated with chronic kidney disease, for which he is internationally renowned. With his research team, he has led several pivotal multicentre clinical trials, which have shaped the management of renal anaemia worldwide. He was selected to be on an international Work Group (KDIGO) to create the latest clinical practice guideline for the management of anaemia in chronic kidney disease, which was published in August 2012. He is also the R&D Lead for the Renal Department at King's College Hospital, as well as the South London Renal Clinical Research Network lead for the National Institute for Health Research.

Professor Macdougall graduated from the University of Glasgow and has worked at the Glasgow Western Infirmary, Cardiff Royal Infirmary and St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. Professor Macdougall was appointed as a Consultant Nephrologist in January 1996, and received his academic promotion to Professor of Clinical Nephrology through King's College London in March 2011.

Dorine Swinkels, MD

Professor Renal Disorders, Radboud University Medical Centre

In her research, Professor Swinkels seeks a comprehensive understanding of iron metabolism, in particular by identifying and characterising novel factors that affect dysregulation of iron homeostasis in human disorders among which are some of the world's most prevalent diseases, such as anaemia of chronic kidney disease, hereditary haemochromatosis, inherited (iron loading) anaemias and bacterial and malarial infections.

Translating research findings into novel diagnostic assays and therapeutic strategies that can be implemented in the clinic is a key part of Professor Swinkels’ work. The most recent achievements and activities include developing and harmonising assays for the recently discovered iron regulatory hormone peptide hepcidin, which is the subject of several translational studies.

Günter Weiss, MD

Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Director, Department of Internal Medicine VI ( Infectious Diseases, immunology, Rheumatology, Pneumology) Medical University Innsbruck, Austria

Günter Weiss is Professor of Clinical Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University Innsbruck. In his research, he focuses on acquired and genetic  disorders of iron homeostasis including different forms of anemia (with a specific focus on anemia of chronic disease-ACD) and host-pathogen interaction, with a special emphasis on regulatory interactions between iron homeostasis, natural resistance genes and immune function in various infectious diseases with the aim to identify new avenues for successful treatment of specific infections. Professor Weiss' team contributed significantly to our current knowledge on the pathophysiology of ACD and performed numerous studies exploiting novel treatment strategies based on these discoveries. Professor Weiss is the coordinator of the Comprehensive Center for Infection, Immunity and Transplantation (CIIT) the Medical University Innsbruck.

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