Ezra Cohen, Maura Gillison, David Raben

Ezra Cohen, MD

Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Co-Director, San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy Associate Director for Translational Science
Co-Leader, Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program
Co-Director, Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence UCSD Moores Cancer Center
La Jolla, CA

Dr. Cohen is Co-Director of the San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy and an internationally renowned translational researcher. A physician-scientist, Dr. Cohen led an independently funded laboratory interested in mechanisms of action of novel therapeutics. He has made major contributions to targeted therapy. His recent National Institutes of Health-funded work in the study of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors in head and neck cancer has contributed to the understanding of the biology of this critical signaling network, integration of these agents into standard of care, and definition of mechanisms to overcome resistance. He recently served as chair of the NCI Head and Neck Cancer Steering Committee that oversees NCI-funded clinical research (including all NCI Cooperative Group
trials) in this disease.

Dr. Cohen is Associate Director for Translational Science and leader of the Solid Tumor Therapeutics research program at Moores Cancer Center. He brings his expertise and preeminent reputation in head and neck cancer research and patient care to solid tumor therapeutics. Among other roles, he is chair of the Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee (PRMC) and serves as a member of the Cancer Council, and the Cancer Center’s Executive Committee.

Dr. Cohen recently served as editor-in-chief of Oral Oncology, the highest impact specialty journal in head and neck cancer, and has recently chaired two Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposia—the largest international meeting of its kind—sponsored by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Head and Neck Society. He has been the principal investigator on multiple studies of novel agents in head and neck cancer and other solid tumors in all phases of development including chemoprevention, phase I, II, and III trials. Dr. Cohen has authored more than 170 papers and has presented his research at national and international meetings. In addition, he has served as a grant reviewer for the NIH, American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

Dr. Cohen completed residencies in Family Medicine at the University of Toronto and in Internal Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at the University of Chicago where he was named chief fellow. Prior to his arrival in San Diego, Dr. Cohen was Co-Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program, Associate Director for Education and Program Director for the Hematology/ Oncology Fellowship at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. A dedicated educator, Dr. Cohen also mentored and developed young faculty in his program.

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Maura Gillison, MD, PhD

Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX

Dr. Gillison a head and neck medical oncologist and molecular epidemiologist was the first to make the association of human papillomavirus (HPV) and oral cancer. She is the leading expert on HPV and oral cancer and her work has had, and will continue to have, significant public health implications. Recruited from Johns Hopkins, Dr. Gillison arrived at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in 2009 with NCI R01 funding and has added depth to both the Viral Oncology Program and the Cancer Control Program. In 2017 Dr. Gillison was recruited by MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Gillison has made significant research contributions to the fields of tumor virology, cancer biology and epidemiology. In 2000, she pioneered a study that provided convincing molecular evidence for HPV16 to be the causative agent of a defined subset of oral cavity cancers, which turned out to be a unique disease etiology in many respects, and that it occurred primarily in the posterior of the oral cavity known as the oropharynx. Dr. Gillison was the first to demonstrate that some of these head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) were HPV(+). She also characterized the HPV types and anatomical tissue localizations favored by the virus. Her findings have confirmed and extended previous molecular and epidemiological studies, and for the first time, demonstrated that HPV(+) HNSCCs comprise a distinct clinical, pathological disease at the molecular level that are causally associated with persistent high risk HPV16 infection. Dr. Gillison has followed that work with additional peer reviewed publications that elucidated populations at risk for this disease etiology, mechanisms of transfer of the virus, and much more. She presented data at the ASCO conference in 2009 showing that HPV is the most important predictor of clinical response to tumor therapy and prognosis for patients with these cancers. As a result of this data, the National Cancer Institute has recommended that all clinical trials involving head and neck cancer be stratified by tumor HPV status.

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David Raben, MD

Marsico Family Endowed Chair for Head and Neck Cancer Research
Department of Radiation Oncology Anschutz Medical Campus University of Colorado
Aurora, CO

Dr. Raben is a Board-Certified Radiation Oncologist and holds the rank of Professor at the University of Colorado. He received his undergraduate degree at Duke University and his MD from Wake Forest University Health Sciences Center. Residency training in Radiation Oncology was conducted at the John Hopkins Hospital. He took his initial faculty position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1994-1998 heading the GI tumor working group and receiving an American Cancer Society translational oncology grant to study brain tumors. Having joined the faculty at the University of Colorado in 1998, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center he is a member of the Lung, Head & Neck Cancers Program of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Dr. Raben has extensive expertise in aerodigestive track malignancies with a specific focus in head and neck cancer (HNC) and has provided contributions to the University of Colorado Cancer Center through pre-clinical and clinical investigations. He is an active member of the School of Medicine Admissions committee, having served over the past 15 years and currently teaches 1st year medical students in the Problem Based Learning Program.

Having developed interests and expertise over the past 20 years in translational radiation oncology with a focus on delivery of precision drugs, Dr. Raben has explored molecular biomarkers and targets that will enhance the effects of radiation therapy in HNC. Nationally, he is an active participant in the NRG Head and Neck Cancer Steering Committee and Translational Committee focusing on national, NCI approved clinical trials devoted to HNC. He served on the planning committee for the ASTRO Multidisciplinary HNC Symposium and was the Chair and Past Chair for the 2014 and 2016 meetings. Dr Raben served as the Co-Program Radiation Chair of the International HNC Meeting in 2012 and on the 2016 AHNS Radiation Planning Committee as well as the Radiation Steering Committee for the 2017 6th International Conference on Innovative Approaches in Head and Neck Oncology held in Barcelona.

Dr. Raben currently serves as the Developmental Therapeutics Co-Chair at the NRG tasked with initiating and implementing Phase I trials with radiation and novel drugs. From a research perspective at Colorado, his focus has been on heavy smoker patients who have resistant cancers and high levels of DNA repair capabilities in an effort to offer approaches that will inhibit DNA repair. His research efforts have demonstrated the effectiveness in vitro of this type of approach and his group is studying which biomarkers might predict response to DNA repair inhibitors. Additional research has been directed towards the evaluation of TGFb inhibitors in HNC transgenic models as well as use of checkpoint inhibitors with radiation. He has over 145 publications in peer reviewed journals and is an ad hoc reviewer for a variety of high impact journals including Annals of Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research, Oral Oncology, Head and Neck, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Radiotherapy and Oncology and Cancer Research. He is a member of ASCO, ASTRO, AHNS, IASLC and AACR.

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