Immunotherapy pioneer honored by European cancer organization
Dr. Antoni Ribas, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been named the 2020 honoree of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Award for Translational Research.
The award recognizes scientists who are internationally recognized for outstanding achievements in bringing new therapies from the bench to the bedside and who have also helped mentor oncologists to advance in their professional careers. Ribas was chosen for his notable body of translational research in malignant melanoma, for which few effective therapies used to exist.
Ribas, whose work focuses on gene-engineered T cells, PD-1 blockade and BRAF targeted therapies, led the development of the drug pembrolizumab as the first-in-class approved anti-PD-1 immunotherapy for the treatment of melanoma, and has been involved in the FDA approval of four other drugs for patients with melanoma. He is also being recognized for his laboratory-based studies that have defined the mechanistic basis of how patients respond to or develop resistance to these therapies through specific genetic events. The knowledge resulted from this work has led to new combination therapies that are being successfully advanced in the clinic.
“I want to share the honor of receiving the ESMO Award for Translational Research with the members of my laboratory, with my research colleagues and trainees,” Ribas said. “Our goal has been to conduct research that improves the treatment of patients with cancer, and this award is a recognition of the translational impact of our work.”
Ribas is also a member of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA and also serves as the director of the UCLA Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center.