About Dr. Allison
Dr. James Allison is Regental Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology, the Olga Keith Wiess Distinguished University Chair for Cancer Research, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Research, and the Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has spent a distinguished career studying the regulation of T cell responses and developing strategies for cancer immunotherapy. He earned the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Dr. Tasuku Honjo, "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation." Among his most notable discoveries are the determination of the T cell receptor structure and that CD28 is the major costimulatory molecule that allows full activation of naïve T cells and prevents anergy in T cell clones. His lab resolved a major controversy by demonstrating that CTLA-4 inhibits T-cell activation by opposing CD28-mediated costimulation and that blockade of CTLA-4 could enhance T cell responses, leading to tumor rejection in animal models. This finding and a great deal of persistence paved the way for the field of immune checkpoint blockade therapy for cancer. Work in his lab led to the development of ipilimumab, an antibody to human CTLA-4 and the first immune checkpoint blockade therapy approved by the FDA. Among many honors, he is a member of the National Academies of Science and Medicine and received the Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research award in 2015. His current work seeks to improve immune checkpoint blockade therapies currently used by our clinicians and identify new targets to unleash the immune system in order to eradicate cancer.
In the News
MD Anderson immunologist Jim Allison awarded Nobel Prize
National Academy of Sciences awards Kovalenko medal to immunotherapy pioneer Allison
MD Anderson’s Jim Allison named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people
Celebrating immunotherapy’s ‘Most Influential’ pioneer
Checkpoint inhibitors fire up different types of T cells to attack tumors
The game changer
Chair, Department of Immunology, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Olga Keith Wiess Distinguished University Chair for Cancer Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Regental Professor, Department of Immunology, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Executive Director, Immunotherapy Platform, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Deputy Director, David H. Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Director, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
|1973||The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA, PHD, Biological Sciences|
|1969||The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA, BS, Microbiology|
|1974-1977||Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular Immunology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, CA|
Professor, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, 2004 - 2012
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Division of Rheumatology, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, 1997 - 2004
Professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Division of Division of Immunology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1985 - 2004
Associate Biochemist and Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Science Park, Smithville, TX, 1983 - 1984
Visiting Scholar, Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, 1983 - 1984
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 1979 - 1984
Assistant Biochemist and Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Science Park, Smithville, TX, 1977 - 1983
Chief Scientific Advisor ad interim, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2017 - 2019
Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, NY, 2006 - 2012
Co-Chair, Department of Graduate Program in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, New York, NY, 2004 - 2012
Co-Chair, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1998 - 2000
Division Head, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1989 - 1997
Division Head ad interim, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1987 - 1989
Director, Department of Cancer Research Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1985 - 2004
Attending Immunologist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, NY, 2004 - 2012
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Chevy Chase, MD, 1997 - 2012
Special Associate Member of the Graduate Faculty, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 1980 - 1984
Institutional Committee Activities
Member, Advisory Committee, 2012 - Present
Member, Institutional Research Executive Committee, 2012 - Present
Member, Strategic Faculty Hiring (SFH) Committee, 2012 - Present
Member, Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2012 - Present
Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology, Department of Immunology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2016 - 2019
David H. Koch Chair in Immunologic Studies, Department of Immunology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, NY, 2004 - 2012
|2019||2018 Health Hero, Lifetime Achievement Award, WebMD|
|2019||2019 Luminary Award, Texas Healthcare & Bioscience Institute (THBI)|
|2018||2018 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal for Outstanding Research in Medical Sciences, National Academy of Sciences (NAS)|
|2018||BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Laureate, BBVA Foundation|
|2018||Mike Hogg Award and Lecture, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center|
|2018||The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, Johnson & Johnson|
|2018||Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, Albany Medical Center|
|2018||2018 UCL Prize Lecture in Clinical Science, University of College London|
|2018||2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden|
|2018||Honorary Member, President's Council, The New York Academy of Sciences|
|2017||Wolf Prize for Medicine, Wolf Foundation|
|2017||Sjoberg Prize for Cancer Research, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS)|
|2017||Balzan Prize for Immunologic Approaches in Cancer Therapy, International Balzan Foundation|
|2017||Warren Triennial Prize, Massachusetts General Hospital|
|2017||Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, Harvard Medical School|
|2016||Honorary Doctorate of Science, Rockefeller University|
|2016||Honorary Doctorate, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai|
|2016||Honorary Award, The Hope Funds for Cancer Research|
|2016||Distinguished Scientist Award, Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI)|
|2016||Fudan Zhongzhi Science Award, Fudan University and Zhongzhi Enterprise Group|
|2015||Science of Oncology Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)|
|2015||The Benvenuto Memorial Award, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Experimental Therapeutics|
|2015||President’s Recognition for Faculty Excellence, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Experimental Therapeutics|
|2015||Harvey Prize in Human Health, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology|
|2015||The Passano Award, The Passano Foundation, Inc|
|2015||Pezcoller Foundation-American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Award for Cancer Research, AACR|
|2015||Medal of Honor for Basic Research, American Cancer Society (ACS)|
|2015||Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, The Lasker Foundation|
|2015||Lifetime Achievement in Melanoma Research Award, Society for Melanoma Research|
|2015||Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, Paul Ehrlich Foundation|
|2014||Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Breakthrough Prize Foundation|
|2014||Szent-Gyorgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR)|
|2014||President's Recognition for Faculty Excellence, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center|
|2014||Canada Gairdner International Award, The Gairdner Foundation|
|2014||Tang Prize for Biopharmaceutical Science, Tang Prize Foundation|
|2014||Giants of Cancer Care Award in Scientific Advances, Intellisphere Oncology Specialty Group|
|2014||Distinguished Alumnus Award, Texas Exes|
|2014||Meira and Shaul G. Massry Prize, The Meira and Shaul G. Massry Foundation|
|2014||Prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine, American-Italian Cancer Foundation|
|2014||Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Columbia University|
|2014||Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences Award, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)|
|2014||G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)|
|2014||Dallas/Fort Worth Living Legend Faculty Achievement Award in Basic Science, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center|
|2013||Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)-Cancer Research Institute (CRI)|
|2013||Novartis Award for Clinical Immunology, Novartis|
|2013||Innovations Award in BioScience, Economist|
|2012||Lifetime Achievement Award, Molecular Targeted Therapy Group|
|2012||Heath Memorial Award, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center|
|2011||Lifetime Achievement Award, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)|
|2011||Roche Award, Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy|
|2011||Breakthrough Achievements in Translational Cancer Research, American Skin Association|
|2011||Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine, Brandeis University|
|2011||Advancement of Cancer Research Award, Gilda's Club|
|2010||Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Lectureship Award, International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer|
|2008||C. Chester Stock Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biomedical Research, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)|
|2008||Dana Foundation Award in Human Immunology Research, American Association of Immunologists (AAI)|
|2005||William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology, Cancer Research Institute (CRI)|
|2002||Outstanding Alumnus Award, The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School|
|2002||CaP CURE Research Award, CaP CURE|
|2001||Centeon Award for Innovative Breakthroughs in Immunology, Aventis Behring GmbH|
|1998||CaP CURE Research Award, CaP CURE|
|1986||Merit Award, National Institutes of Health (NIH)|
- Subudhi SK, Vence L, Zhao H, Blando J, Yadav SS, Xiong Q, Reuben A, Aparicio A, Corn PG, Chapin BF, Pisters LL, Troncoso P, Tidwell RS, Thall P, Wu CJ, Zhang J, Logothetis CL, Futreal A, Allison JP, Sharma P. Neoantigen responses, immune correlates, and favorable outcomes after ipilimumab treatment of patients with prostate cancer. Sci Transl Med 12(537), 2020. PMID: 32238575.
- Tahir SA, Gao J, Miura Y, Blando J, Tidwell RSS, Zhao H, Subudhi SK, Tawbi H, Keung E, Wargo J, Allison JP, Sharma P. Autoimmune antibodies correlate with immune checkpoint therapy-induced toxicities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116(44):22246-22251, 2019. e-Pub 2019. PMID: 31611368.
- Sharma N, Vacher J, Allison JP. TLR1/2 ligand enhances antitumor efficacy of CTLA-4 blockade by increasing intratumoral Treg depletion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116(21):10453-10462, 2019. e-Pub 2019. PMID: 31076558.
- Wei SC, Sharma R, Anang NAS, Levine JH, Zhao Y, Mancuso JJ, Setty M, Sharma P, Wang J, Pe'er D, Allison JP. Negative Co-stimulation Constrains T Cell Differentiation by Imposing Boundaries on Possible Cell States. Immunity 50(4):1084-1098.e10, 2019. e-Pub 2019. PMID: 30926234.
- Sharma A, Subudhi SK, Blando J, Scutti J, Vence L, Wargo J, Allison JP, Ribas A, Sharma P. Anti-CTLA-4 immunotherapy does not deplete FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in human cancers. Clin Cancer Res 25(4):1233-1238, 2019. e-Pub 2018. PMID: 30054281.
- Blando J, Sharma A, Higa MG, Zhao H, Vence L, Yadav SS, Kim J, Sepulveda AM, Sharp M, Maitra A, Wargo J, Tetzlaff M, Broaddus R, Katz MHG, Varadhachary GR, Overman M, Wang H, Yee C, Bernatchez C, Iacobuzio-Donahue C, Basu S, Allison JP, Sharma P. Comparison of immune infiltrates in melanoma and pancreatic cancer highlights VISTA as a potential target in pancreatic cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116(5):1692-1697, 2019. e-Pub 2019. PMID: 30635425.
- Wei SC, Levine JH, Cogdill AP, Zhao Y, Anang NAS, Andrews MC, Sharma P, Wang J, Wargo JA, Pe'er D, Allison JP. Distinct Cellular Mechanisms Underlie Anti-CTLA-4 and Anti-PD-1 Checkpoint Blockade. Cell 170(6):1120-33.e17, 2017. e-Pub 2017. PMID: 28803728.
- Fan X, Quezada SA, Sepulveda MA, Sharma P, Allison JP. Engagement of the ICOS pathway markedly enhances efficacy of CTLA-4 blockade in cancer immunotherapy. J Exp Med 211(4):715-25, 2014. e-Pub 2014. PMID: 24687957.
- Zamarin D, Holmgaard RB, Subudhi SK, Park JS, Mansour M, Palese P, Merghoub T, Wolchok JD, Allison JP. Localized oncolytic virotherapy overcomes systemic tumor resistance to immune checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. Sci Transl Med 6(226):226ra32, 2014. PMID: 24598590.
- Curran MA, Montalvo W, Yagita H, Allison JP. PD-1 and CTLA-4 combination blockade expands infiltrating T cells and reduces regulatory T and myeloid cells within B16 melanoma tumors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107(9):4275-80, 2010. e-Pub 2010. PMID: 20160101.
- Peggs KS, Quezada SA, Chambers CA, Korman AJ, Allison JP. Blockade of CTLA-4 on both effector and regulatory T cell compartments contributes to the antitumor activity of anti-CTLA-4 antibodies. J Exp Med 206(8):1717-25, 2009. e-Pub 2009. PMID: 19581407.
- Segal NH, Parsons DW, Peggs KS, Velculescu V, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B, Allison JP. Epitope landscape in breast and colorectal cancer. Cancer Res 68(3):889-92, 2008. PMID: 18245491.
- Quezada SA, Peggs KS, Curran MA, Allison JP. CTLA4 blockade and GM-CSF combination immunotherapy alters the intratumor balance of effector and regulatory T cells. J Clin Invest 116(7):1935-45, 2006. e-Pub 2006. PMID: 16778987.
- van Elsas A, Hurwitz AA, Allison JP. Combination immunotherapy of B16 melanoma using anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-producing vaccines induces rejection of subcutaneous and metastatic tumors accompanied by autoimmune depigmentation. J Exp Med 190(3):355-66, 1999. PMID: 10430624.
- Leach DR, Krummel MF, Allison JP. Enhancement of antitumor immunity by CTLA-4 blockade. Science 271(5256):1734-6, 1996. PMID: 8596936.
- Krummel MF, Allison JP. CD28 and CTLA-4 have opposing effects on the response of T cells to stimulation. J Exp Med 182(2):459-65, 1995. PMID: 7543139.
- Harding FA, McArthur JG, Gross JA, Raulet DH, Allison JP. CD28-mediated signalling co-stimulates murine T cells and prevents induction of anergy in T-cell clones. Nature 356(6370):607-9, 1992. PMID: 1313950.
- McIntyre BW, Allison JP. The mouse T cell receptor: structural heterogeneity of molecules of normal T cells defined by xenoantiserum. Cell 34(3):739-46, 1983. PMID: 6194888.
- Wei SC, Meijers WC, Axelrod ML, Anang NAS, Screever EM, Wescott EC, Johnson DB, Whitley E, Lehmann L, Courand PY, Mancuso JJ, Himmel LE, Lebrun-Vignes B, Wleklinski MJ, Knollmann BC, Srinivasan J, Li Y, Atolagbe OT, Rao X, Zhao Y, Wang J, Ehrlich LIR, Sharma P, Salem JE, Balko JM, Moslehi JJ, Allison JP. A genetic mouse model recapitulates immune checkpoint inhibitor-associated myocarditis and supports a mechanism-based therapeutic intervention. Cancer Discov. e-Pub 2020. PMID: 33257470.
- Goswami S, Walle T, Cornish AE, Basu S, Anandhan S, Fernandez I, Vence L, Blando J, Zhao H, Yadav SS, Ott M, Kong LY, Heimberger AB, de Groot J, Sepesi B, Overman M, Kopetz S, Allison JP, Pe'er D, Sharma P. Immune profiling of human tumors identifies CD73 as a combinatorial target in glioblastoma. Nat Med. e-Pub 2019. PMID: 31873309.
- Wei SC, Anang NAS, Sharma R, Andrews MC, Reuben A, Levine JH, Cogdill AP, Mancuso JJ, Wargo JA, Pe'er D, Allison JP. Combination anti-CTLA-4 plus anti-PD-1 checkpoint blockade utilizes cellular mechanisms partially distinct from monotherapies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. e-Pub 2019. PMID: 31636208.
- Allison JP, Krummel MF. The Yin and Yang of T cell costimulation. Science 270(5238):932-3, 1995. PMID: 7481795.
|Title:||Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade and Adoptive Cell Transfer in Cancer Therapy|
|Funding Source:||American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)|
|Title:||Orchestration of T-Cell Responses by Costimulatory and Coinhibitory Signals|
|Funding Source:||Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)|
|Title:||Cancer Center Support (CORE) Grant - Immunology CCSG|
Photo credit: Pontus Lundahl/Pool Photo via AP
Photo credit: Christine Olsson/TT News Agency via AP