Joaquim Bellmunt, Robert Ferris, Naiyer Rizvi, Jeffrey Weber

Joaquim Bellmunt, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Director, Bladder Cancer Center
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Dr. Bellmunt is Director of the Bladder Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. He graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 1982 and obtained his PhD cum laude in 1989 from the same university. After undergoing the residency in Medical Oncology at the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, he completed his studies obtaining the European Certificate in Medical Oncology in London in 1989 and rotating at the Clinical Immunology Service, Division of Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York in 1987 and 1989. Dr. Bellmunt joined the Department of Medical Oncology, Hospital Vall d'Hebron taking over the Uro-oncology Clinic. In January 2006, he was appointed Chief of the Solid Tumor Oncology Service of the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona. Since 2008 and as a result of his collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) until late 2012, he has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, Boston, MA. On March 2013, Dr. Bellmunt was appointed Director of the DFCI Bladder Cancer Clinic and Associate Professor at Harvard.

As a genitourinary (GU) medical oncologist, Dr. Bellmunt has been involved in, and led urothelial cancer trials for over 15 years in Europe and continues doing so at DFCI. He has focused on the development of new systemic treatment for GU cancers, in particular bladder cancer (BC) and has been a key investigator in several trials conducted in this patient population. Dr. Bellmunt developed the MCAVI schedule for unfit patients, reported the superiority of cisplatin versus carboplatin, designed the three drug regimen of paclitaxel, cisplatin and gemcitabine (PCG), and was the Principal Investigator (PI) of the phase III trial comparing PCG with CG (EORTC 30987, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer). He was also the Co-PI of the EORTC 30986 study in unfit patients. In the second line setting, he chaired the phase III study of vinflunine versus placebo that led to the approval of vinflunine in Europe.

Dr. Bellmunt has also been involved in research on clinical and biological prognostic factors in both first- and second-line treatment settings. At DFCI, he has analyzed the molecular profile of a bladder cancer patient series from Spain and Greece looking for new targets for therapeutic intervention. Currently and based on the findings of PI3K mutations, he is studying in preclinical models the efficacy of PI3K and TOR1/2 inhibitor drugs in BC cell lines. He is undergoing a clinical trial with a TOR1/2 inhibitor (IST) and another one combining pazopanib and everolimus. The goal is to study the synergistic activity of paclitaxel and MLN128 in patients failing first-line chemotherapy for bladder cancer. The prospective CRIS clinical/biological (online) database has been built, which will boost translational research in BC patients.

Recently, his research at the Bladder Cancer Center has focused on the role of checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of GU malignancies (bladder and kidney). In this context he has investigated the role of PD-L1 expression as a prognostic factor in advanced BC patients. Dr. Bellmunt is now implementing prospective data collection of patients included in the immunotherapy trials in order to understand the underlying genetic and biological mechanisms of response and resistance.

Dr. Bellmunt is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM). He has been part of the ASCO Congress Scientific Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology-Genitourinary (ASCO GU) where he has been involved in conferences as a Faculty Member. Dr. Bellmunt is also involved in most European guidelines for GU malignancies, including ESMO, SEOM and the European Association of Urology (EAU) (bladder, kidney and prostate cancer). In the U.S., he is involved in the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) immunotherapy guidelines for BC.

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Robert Ferris, MD, PhD

UPMC Endowed Professor and Chief
Division of Head and Neck Surgery
Associate Director for Translational Research
Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology Program
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Ferris completed his training at Johns Hopkins University, focused on head and neck oncologic surgery and cancer immunology. He moved to the University of Pittsburgh, where he is currently the UPMC Endowed Professor, Vice-Chair and Chief of Head and Neck Surgery, and Fellowship Director in Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery. At the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, he is Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program and Associate Director for Translational Research. Dr. Ferris serves on the Editorial Boards of JNCI, JCO, Clinical Cancer Research, Cancer Immunology Research and Section Editor for Cancer. He is Editor in Chief of Oral Oncology. Dr. Ferris has published over 250 peer-reviewed manuscripts and in 2015 was elected Co-chair of the NCI Head and Neck Steering committee to facilitate prospective clinical trials. He has authored numerous book chapters and co- edited two textbooks, Salivary Gland Disorders and Master Techniques in Head and Neck Surgery.

Dr. Ferris’ NIH-funded laboratory is focused on reversal of immune escape and immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies and cellular vaccines, leading randomized phase II-III trials of anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 immunotherapy. He currently chairs the NIH tumor Microenvironment study section. He is Principal Investigator (PI) of several prospective randomized trials, including ECOG 3311, testing radiation dose-deintensification after transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for HPV+ oropharynx cancer, as well as ECOG-ACRIN 3132, using p53 mutational testing in HPV- cancer, to predict response to radiation versus chemoradiation. He is a PI of the University of Pittsburgh Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant for translational head and neck research, and a T32 training grant, “Training of Head and Neck Oncologists,” both funded by the National Cancer Institute until 2020.

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Naiyer Rizvi, MD

Professor of Medicine
Director, Thoracic Oncology and Immunotherapeutics
Division of Hematology and Oncology
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, NY

Dr. Rizvi is the Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine and the Director of Thoracic Oncology Phase I Immunotherapeutics for the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY. He also holds the Price Chair in Clinical Translational Research.

Dr. Rizvi is an internationally recognized leader in the treatment of lung cancer and immunotherapy drug development. Prior to joining Columbia University Medical Center, his clinical research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer played a significant role in the FDA approval path of a new class of immunotherapies, called immune checkpoint inhibitors, for melanoma and lung cancer.

Dr. Rizvi’s research focus is studying mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to immunotherapy. Through genetic testing of tumors, he has been able to improve the understanding of why immune checkpoint inhibitors work in certain patients. This work has been partially supported by Stand Up to Cancer – Cancer Research Institute Immunology funding.

In his research, he also is studying why certain cancers do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors, so we can find better ways to harness the immune system to attack cancer cells. He oversees phase 1 immunotherapy research in solid tumors at Columbia University Medical Center and is conducting key clinical studies of novel immunotherapy drugs and immunotherapy combinations to help more patients in the fight against cancer.

Dr. Rizvi has disclosed that he is a consultant for AstraZeneca, Merck, Novartis, and Roche. He is also a shareholder/co-founder of Gritstone Oncology.

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Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD

(Activity Chair)
Deputy Director
Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine
NYU Langone Medical Center
New York, NY

Dr. Weber is Deputy Director at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at the NYU Langone Medical Center, is a Professor of Medicine at NYU, and Head of Experimental Therapeutics at the Perlmutter Cancer Center. He is a translational clinician-scientist and clinical trialist with an interest in immuno-oncology and the development of new treatment strategies for patients with melanoma.

Dr. Weber has been funded by the National Cancer Institute with RO1 funding for over 20 years and was the principal investigator of the Moffitt Skin SPORE, a large multi-project grant that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has sat on numerous study sections and has been instrumental in the development of the three immuno-oncology agents that have been approved by the FDA in the last four years: ipilimumab, nivolumab, and pembrolizumab.

Dr. Weber was the principal investigator of the first trial that demonstrated benefit for PD-1 blocking antibodies in melanoma patients that had failed ipilimumab. He was also the first investigator who demonstrated that PD-1 blocking antibodies had encouraging activity in resected melanoma patients and is the international principal investigator of the first adjuvant trial of PD-1 blocking antibody nivolumab in patients with surgically resected melanoma at high risk of recurrence. Dr. Weber maintains an active portfolio of clinical trials and runs a laboratory effort in which tumor and blood samples are analyzed for markers that are associated with benefit from novel immuno-oncology agents.

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