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this month

May News

Bloomberg~Kimmel Professors of Cancer Immunotherapy
Back, from left, Dean of the Medical Faculty Paul Rothman, Johns Hopkins University president Ronald Daniels, Kimmel Cancer Center director, William Nelson, Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute director Drew Pardoll. Bottom, from left, The Bloomberg~Kimmel Professors of Cancer Immunotherapy Cynthia Sears, Jonathan Powell and Suzanne Topalian

Our Professors Honored in Historic Ceremony

Johns Hopkins University installed three Bloomberg~Kimmel Professors of Cancer Immunotherapy last month — the first time in university history that a trio of professorships were awarded at the same time.


“The Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute accelerated our research and put us at the forefront of metabolism research, and we are already developing drugs for clinical trials. Discoveries that once might have been classified as science fiction are now becoming a reality.” — Bloomberg~Kimmel Professor Jonathan Powell, pioneer in the science of cell metabolism

“The Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute is a place where you can take novel, outside-of-the-box projects and flourish. I am excited to take on the challenge of the new science in the field of the microbiome in immunotherapy.” — Bloomberg~Kimmel Professor Cynthia Sears, who linked the collusion of two types of gut bacteria to a cancer-causing immune response in colon cancer

“A cancer diagnosis should be no different than a diagnosis of pneumonia: potentially fatal but curable if diagnosed early and treated properly. That is our goal, and that is the promise of immunotherapy.” — Bloomberg~Kimmel Professor Suzanne Topalian, leader of the groundbreaking studies that resulted in anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 immunotherapies

Their discoveries are changing lives. They exemplify the best of what we produce here at Johns Hopkins. They are pushing the boundaries of the science they are investigating, and that’s what makes the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy special.

—Paul Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty



This image shows immunotherapy at work.
This image shows immunotherapy at work.

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but deadly form of skin cancer that is often caused by a virus, called the Merkel cell polyomavirus.

  • 50 patients treated
  • 56% responded to immunotherapy
  • 24% saw their cancer disappear
  • 79% projected to see tumor control last over two years


Many cancers use “checkpoints” (for example, PD- 1) to apply the brakes to the immune system. As a result, the immune system can’t fight the cancer. Anti-PD-1 immunotherapies — checkpoint inhibitors like Keytruda and Opdivo — disable those brakes, allowing the immune system to fight the cancer under its own momentum.


Pathologist Janis Taube, M.D., uses a special technique to see how immunotherapy is working within Merkel cell tumors.


center without walls

At Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, astronomers and engineers work side by side with medical oncologists, surgeons, infectious disease experts, and scholars from nearly every department.

  • 1st U.S. center dedicated to curing cancer with the immune system
  • 59 Faculty members
  • 150 Students, nurses and fellows
  • 18 Departments
  • 4 Schools


Eight Johns Hopkins University departments collaborated on four papers that were the first ever to explore the role of PD-1 in treatment and its partner protein PD-L1, the first biomarker to guide the use of anti-PD-1 immunotherapy.
In the past six years, these papers have been cited over 18,000 times.

This Month at BKI

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