New York Academy of Sciences
STEM Supreme: Padmanee Sharma
Posted July 30, 2021
In this fifth and final episode of the webinar series, STEM Supremes: Conversations with Women in Science, the Academy’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Brooke Grindlinger, interviewed pioneering immunologist and oncologist, Dr. Padmanee Sharma, the T.C. and Jeanette D. Hsu Endowed Chair in Cell Biology; professor in the departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology; and Co-Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Sharma has played a pivotal role in mobilizing the human immune response in the revolution of cancer care. She designed and conducted one of the first pre-surgical clinical trials to evaluate the response of patients to immunotherapy for bladder and prostate cancers, and hunts for biomarkers that could predict patient response to immunotherapy. Born in Guyana, Sharma also speaks about overcoming conscious and unconscious biases throughout her career as an immigrant woman of color, and how institutional leaders can adopt more inclusive policies to attract, retain, and promote women and other underrepresented minorities pursuing careers in science and medicine.
In this eBriefing, You’ll Learn:
- Basic mechanisms of action of cancer immunotherapy
- Role of the NY-ESO-1 antigen in immune checkpoint therapy for bladder cancer
- Role of T-cells and myeloid cells in prostate cancer and the development of resistance to immunotherapy
- Utility of biomarkers and artificial intelligence approaches in cancer therapy
- Current challenges in immunotherapy, including: (i) selection of optimal combination therapy strategies; (ii) understanding the role of myeloid cells, dendritic cells, and B-cells in eliciting a successful immune response; and (iii) toxic immune-related adverse events
- Emerging treatment strategies that combine immunotherapy with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation modalities
- Tangible diversity, equity, and inclusion policies that institutional leaders can adopt to ensure a more inclusive approach to the hiring, recognition, promotion, and tenure of female faculty
A full transcript of this conversation is available for download here.
Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Padmanee Sharma is an internationally renowned physician scientist whose research 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 enabled her to design and lead clinical trials with immune checkpoint therapy for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma and bladder cancer, resulting in improved survival and the approval of new treatments for these patients. Dr. Sharma also designed and conducted the first neoadjuvant (pre-surgical) trial with immune checkpoint therapy in 2006. As inaugural Scientific Director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Immunotherapy Platform, Dr. Sharma has championed a “reverse translation” process that uses studies on human immune responses to generate hypotheses related to mechanisms of tumor rejection, which she tests in pre-clinical models, and subsequently uses the new data to design novel clinical trials to improve outcomes for patients with cancer. Using this model, she is currently responsible for designing immune monitoring studies for over 100 clinical trials. In addition, Dr. Sharma is a Professor in the departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology and Co-Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center. A member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Dr. Sharma has received numerous accolades including the Emil Frei III Award for Excellence in Translational Research (2016), the Coley Award for Distinguished Research for Tumor Immunology (2018), and the Women in Science with Excellence (WISE) Award (2020).
Brooke Grindlinger, PhD
New York Academy of Sciences
Read more about Dr. Grindlinger, the Academy’s Chief Scientific Officer, here.