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Cancer immunotherapy innovator Jim Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will receive the 2018 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal for outstanding research in medical sciences, the National Academy of Scien

“Allison’s pioneering research has had a vast impact on cancer therapy and the evolution of the entire field of cancer immunology,” the NAS noted. “His work advanced science while improving the health and well-being of cancer patients worldwide, a process that continues to this day.”

His basic research on the mechanisms of immune response led Allison to invent immune checkpoint blockade as a cancer therapy. This approach treats the immune system and frees it to attack the tumor by blocking a brake on immune response, rather than by targeting the cancer directly.

“This richly deserved recognition of Jim Allison by the National Academy of Sciences highlights the importance of basic science research in the improvement of cancer treatment,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson.

“Dr. Allison’s research insights and his drive to see them translated into a new therapeutic approach for patients inform our immunotherapy efforts. We are proud to have him as a leader and colleague at MD Anderson.”

Allison will receive the Kovalenko medal, which is awarded every two years, during the 155th NAS Annual Meeting on April 29. The honor comes with a $25,000 prize and a $50,000 grant to support Allison’s research.