Purpose

Cancer immunotherapy is a rapidly evolving field that holds much justified hope and promise based on the striking and durable clinical activity observed in multiple patients. Many key elements for constructing highly effective cancer immunotherapies have been identified and new advancements are being made daily. Clinicians and researchers around the world are beginning to understand how to put these pieces together and moving closer to our primary goal of bringing lasting benefit to all victims of this horrible disease.

ACIR’s mission is to accelerate the advancement of cancer immunotherapy by providing, free-of-charge and readily accessible on the internet, a weekly synopsis of the key advances in this fast moving and multifaceted field. Up-to-date knowledge is critical to fostering the necessary creativity and productivity of researchers, but this is a daunting, time-consuming, and inefficient task for individual researchers, and thus often left undone. We hope that by making it easier for all researchers to stay up to date, our summary will enhance the work of many, bringing us ever closer to curing this deadly disease.

We strive to provide meaningful and unbiased content, and to not favor any approach, product or research team. We encourage our readers to read the original articles for full details.

Origins

The Fritsch Foundation, a charitable, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, had its earliest roots in 2011 when Jan, Ed’s wife of almost 40 years, passed away from breast cancer.  Trying to find some way to battle back against this terrible disease, Ed searched the recent cancer literature daily, and came across immunotherapy. Sadly, four years later, Ed’s son Matt passed away from melanoma. Matt, a successful engineer at SpaceX, had expressed the wish to his friend that if the cancer took him, he wanted his SpaceX stock donated to cancer research. Ed and Matt’s sisters Lisa and Katie all thought this was a wonderful request to honor.

Trying to find a creative way to use the funds, Ed recalled the value of staying up to date on the current literature. Applied to the rapidly expanding and fast-moving field of cancer immunotherapy, digesting and categorizing the rapid advancements would be an exceptional resource to researchers everywhere.  This was how the Fritsch Foundation was born – inspired by the kind and selfless generosity of a cancer victim.

Ed discussed this with Ute Burkhardt, got her intrigued by the idea, and they have been building on it ever since.  In the fall of 2015, Accelerating Cancer Immunotherapy Research (ACIR.org) was formed to carry out the mission of the Fritsch Foundation.

The work of ACIR and the Fritsch Foundation is so beautifully targeted on something that has the potential of being truly useful even in the earliest stages. What a great idea!" — John Petricciani, MD President of the International Alliance for Biological Standardization (IABS); Former Director of the Center for Biologics at FDA and former Chief Medical Officer of the Biologicals Unit at WHO
Our understanding of the interaction between the immune system and cancer cells, and also the ways to exploit this interaction clinically, is growing faster than ever before. At present, there is no reliable single source of information that can help clinicians and researchers in this field stay up-to-date, and by filling this gap, the Fritsch Foundation and ACIR.org initiative will facilitate the development of effective cancer immunotherapies for an increasing number of patient groups." — Ton Schumacher, PhD Deputy Director of the Netherlands Cancer Institute; Professor of Immunotechnology at Leiden University, The Netherlands; Chief Scientific Officer of Kite Pharma EU; SU2C-CRI Immunotherapy Dream Team member
Cancer Immunotherapy is providing patients with novel and durable treatments and the number of available therapies keeps growing. The mission of the Fritsch Foundation and its ACIR.org website—to accelerate the pace by which the field develops through mapping out the research and clinical landscapes and keeping track of key advances in the field—is an initiative that has my total support!!" — Robert D. Schreiber, PhD Alumni Endowed Professor of Pathology and Immunology and Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine, MO; Director of the Washington University Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs; Coleader of the Tumor Immunology Program of Washington University's Siteman Comprehensive Cancer Center; Associate Director of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Cancer Research Institute
I fully support the important new initiative of the Fritsch Foundation. The field of cancer immunotherapy grows at an exciting pace. Staying on top of foundational discoveries in the field, which will be conveniently processed on ACIR.org, is key for coming up with important new hypotheses about immunotherapeutic cancer treatment strategies." — Glenn Dranoff, MD, PhD Global Head of Immuno-Oncology, Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research
I fully endorse the mission of the Fritsch Foundation and ACIR.org to provide a weekly synopsis of the scientific literature that bears on the field of cancer immunotherapy. The value and impact of this approach has been clearly demonstrated by a program I have been involved in as a member of the scientific advisory board of the Prize4Life Foundation, which is dedicated to curing the neurodegenerative disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gherig’s disease). ALS Forum, a joint effort between Prize4Life and the Alzheimer’s Research Forum provides ALS research summaries and well as links to ALS review articles as well as other content related to clinical trials. This program is widely used by the ALS research community to keep up to date with the rapidly moving scientific literature on ALS." — Tom Maniatis, PhD Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York, and Director of the University wide Columbia Precision Medicine Initiative (CPMI)
The Fritsch Foundation and ACIR.org have identified a great way to meet the critical need of researchers and clinicians everywhere to stay up to date with the literature in the fast moving and life-saving field of cancer immunotherapy. This will be a fine living tribute to your son that has the potential to help many future cancer victims!" — James S. Economou, MD, PhD Beaumont Professor of Surgery, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
At a time when immunotherapy is being used for the treatment of increasing numbers of patients with cancer, there is a critical need to provide reliable information to patients, physicians and researchers. Key limitations to get to the reliable sources of information are the large amount of data that is being generated and published, the multiple clinical trials available and the differences in the ability of patients to access these therapies. Given these limitations, I welcome the efforts by The Fritsch Foundation and ACIR.org to make sense out of all this data and provide a reliable and timely source of information for the whole community of patients and researchers. They have full time scientists reviewing the data and pointing to the most important advances in the field of cancer immunotherapy." — Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD Professor of Medicine, Surgery, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC); Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) Center at UCLA; Chair of the Melanoma Committee at SWOG
The field of cancer immunotherapy has exploded in recent years, drawing on the creativity and experience of scientists, clinicians, and patient advocates from many different backgrounds. ACIR does an incredible job of helping bring all of these groups together toward a common goal of eliminating cancer by disseminating important research findings to the community at large." — James Allison, PhD Professor and Chair, Department of Immunology; Executive Director, Immunotherapy Platform; Director, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; and Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair-Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
As a researcher bridging the science and clinical translation of the exciting discoveries of cancer immunotherapy, I applaud the efforts of ACIR.org to help me, my post-docs and students, and my colleagues keep up to date on all the key innovations driving this field. New knowledge continually refines our current thinking and ACIR.org keeps that new knowledge fresh and at our fingertips." — Catherine Wu, MD, PhD Professor of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School; Institute Member, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
I am pleased to voice my support for the mission of ACIR.org to keep cancer immunotherapy researchers up to date with the current advancements in the field. Given the magnitude of new information emerging from this field, I particularly appreciate their efforts to both identify and highlight the key advancements each week and to distill the new information to key take-away points that can be easily and quickly grasped." — Nir Hacohen, PhD Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Director, MGH Center for Cancer Immunology; Institute Member, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Who We Are

Ed Fritsch

Ed Fritsch

Ed Fritsch-LinkedIn

President

Ed is the founder of The Fritsch Foundation and holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. As a postdoctoral research fellow in Tom Maniatis’ lab he helped build the first library of the human genome and later was co-author of  ‘‘Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual’’, which helped spread the application of recombinant technology in the  biomedical sciences. He worked at the Genetics Institute and later as the CSO of Phylos Inc. Like too many others, Ed lost loved ones – his  wife Jan and son Matt – to cancer, which inspired him to battle back and led him to be specifically interested in cancer immunotherapy. As NeoVax project leader at the Dana-Farber-Cancer Institute and now as a founder and CTO of Neon Therapeutics, he helped bring personalized neoantigen-based cancer vaccines to the patient.

Ute Burkhardt

Ute Burkhardt

Ute Burkhardt-LinkedIn

Chief Medical Scientist - Executive Editor

Ute's career path has been characterized by a strong focus on cancer immunotherapy. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, for studies that focused on optimizing cancer vaccine design using murine models in Winfried Wels’ lab. In her postdoctoral work in Cathy J. Wu’s lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute she developed innovative approaches to dissect the global and clonal dynamics of T cell responses underlying promising graft-versus-leukemia activity in patients with chronic leukemia after post-transplant personalized vaccination. Ute has been actively involved in designing and building ACIR.org since it’s inception.

Lauren Hitchings

Lauren Hitchings

Lauren Hitchings-LinkedIn

Scientific Writer

Lauren is a scientific writer with a degree in Biology from Northeastern University and a broad background in scientific research, journalism, publishing, and communications. Her previous work has appeared in New Scientist, Reviewed, USA Today, and Wired UK. She specializes in translating highly complex scientific content into curated writing and schematic illustrations that are easy to digest.

Anna Scherer

Anna Scherer

Anna Scherer-LinkedIn

Scientific Writer

Anna brings years of experience in writing and a multidisciplinary background in science and engineering to her role as a Scientific Writer at ACIR. As a medical writer, Anna has written on a vast number of topics, including oncology, rare diseases, and multiple sclerosis. Prior to starting her career as a writer, Anna worked as a research scientist and engineer in the fields of biotechnology, materials, and aerospace. Anna holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University, and an M.Eng. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT.

Gaelle Lespinasse-Llambi

Gaelle Lespinasse-Llambi

Gaelle Lespinasse-Llambi-LinkedIn

Communications and Outreach Coordinator

Gaelle has a background in communications and public relations. She has a long experience in promoting non-profit organizations through traditional media and social media. She has developed educational programs and outreach strategies for several cultural organizations. Now part of ACIR’s team, she thrives to advocate for ACIR’s mission among the scientific community and the general public to promote and foster a deeper understanding of immunotherapy.

Brynn Vessey

Brynn Vessey

Brynn Vessey-LinkedIn

                                  Co-op writer

Brynn is currently completing an undergraduate internship in scientific writing with ACIR. Recently, Brynn completed a six month internship focused on Rare Diseases with Sanofi Genzyme, where she developed an interest in the cellular mechanisms of disease states. She has always had a passion for writing, and is excited to combine her interests through her work at ACIR. She will be graduating from Northeastern University in May 2019 with a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience, and minors in Spanish and English.

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