THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION for Cancer Research (AACR) recognized Ton Schumacher, PhD, FAACR, with the 2021 AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology during the virtual AACR Annual Meeting 2021 in April. The award recognizes an active scientist whose outstanding and innovative research has made a major impact on the cancer field and has the potential to stimulate new directions in cancer immunology.
Ton Schumacher, PhD, FAACR
Dr. Schumacher is a senior faculty member in the Department of Molecular Oncology and Immunology in the Oncode Institute at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Professor of Immunotechnology at the Leiden University Medical Center. He is being honored for his groundbreaking contributions to illuminating how the human immune system recognizes cancer cells and how such recognition may be strengthened for therapeutic purposes.
Dr. Schumacher is also being honored for developing innovative technologies by which to examine tumor-specific immune responses and harness this knowledge to develop more effective cancer immunotherapies.
Dr. Schumacher is an internationally acclaimed scientist whose discoveries have advanced fundamental immunology research as well as cancer medicine. His early research focused on developing new methods to determine which fragments of tumor antigens bind to MHC molecules that are subsequently recognized by T cells, thereby activating targeted immune responses. Recognizing the translational potential of this early work, Dr. Schumacher next laid the groundwork to genetically transfer specific T-cell receptors onto T cells to better direct the immune response toward a pathogen or tumor. His group was the first to successfully conduct in vivo proof-of-principle T-cell receptor gene therapy in mice. This discovery led to the first clinical trial of T-cell receptor gene therapy in patients with skin cancer. Dr. Schumacher’s subsequent research has focused on overcoming potentially dangerous safety barriers related to T-cell receptor gene therapy, developing methods to identify the best T-cell receptors for directing T cells to tumors, and identifying healthy donors as a potential source of T-cell receptors.