Prof. Carl June

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence - Cell Therapy
2013-2014

Personal Details/ Academic Background:

Prof. Carl H June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy at the Perelman School of Medicine and Director of the Translational Research Programme at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, 1979. He had graduate training in immunology and malaria with Dr. Paul-Henri Lambert at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland from 1978-79, and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology with Dr. E. Donnell Thomas at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle from 1983 to 1986. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. He founded the Immune Cell Biology Program and was head of the Department of Immunology at the Naval Medical Research Institute from 1990 to 1995. He rose to Professorship in the Departments of Medicine and Cell and Molecular Biology at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland before assuming his current position as of February, 1999. He maintains a research laboratory that studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation pertaining to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy.


Responsibilities and Assignments:

Prof June currently heads the Translational Research Programme at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and he is a professor in Immunotherapy at the Perelman School of Medicine. The research team led by Prof June focuses on two themes; the first one involves determining mechanisms of lymphocyte activation, while a more recent focus of theirs is to develop and test novel forms of immunotherapy for cancer and chronic infections.

Prof. June and his team have electrified the medical world and brought renewed hope to leukemia patients everywhere and to patients with many other types of cancers with extraordinary results from their innovative cancer killing treatment that uses modified versions of patients' own immune cells to obliterate tumors.

Because of its dramatic results, Prof. June's pioneering work is being widely recognized as a major turning point that is delivering on the long-held promise of cancer gene therapy.


Research and Achievements:

Carl H. June has made seminal contributions to the field of cellular immunology. Early in his career, he identified CD28 as a major co-stimulatory molecule. This work led to the patenting of CTlA41g for therapy of autoimmune disorders, approved by FDA for rheumatoid arthritis in 2005, and now marketed as Abatacept (Orencia™).

Additionally, Prof June’s results were critical for developing the first clinically relevant culture system for T cells. In this context Prof June’s group has conducted a number of first-in-humans trials with genetically engineered T cells, including the first use of a lentiviral vector.

Prof June’s team has treated a total of 35 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and 20 patients with pediatric acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is important to note that since publication of the initial results in August 2011, no patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia has relapsed. Sixteen of the twenty patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia have had complete remissions, such results are rare in a phase I clinical trial. Moreover, a single infusion of CAR T cells may suffice, with continued antibody production in the patient, which may obviate the need for bone marrow transplantation.  

Over the past 10 years Prof June applied his basic discoveries to reconstitute cellular immunity in patients with HIV infection and cancer. His team will be the first to report targeted genome editing in humans. He has shown that this intervention is safe and that it induces HIV resistance in patients with chronic HIV infection.

The June laboratory has 28 issued patents, and recently, Novartis has announced that they have licensed his CAR T cell technology and will begin multicenter international clinical trials to gain FDA approval. This is the first time that the pharmaceutical industry invests in adoptive T cell therapy. 


Awards and Recognition:

Prof. June has received many prestigious professional awards:

  • 1978 Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society.
  • 1978 Michael E. DeBakey Scholar Award for the Outstanding Medical Student, Baylor College of Medicine.
  • 1983-1992 American Federation for Clinical Research.
  • 1991 Fellow, American College of Physicians.
  • 1992-2006 American Society for Clinical Investigation.
  • 1996 Dexter Conrad Award, Office of Naval Research, Navy's highest award for Scientific Achievement.
  • 1996 Legion of Merit, US Navy.
  • 1997 Frank Brown Berry Prize in Federal Medicine.
  • 2001 Burroughs Well come Fund Award visiting professor in the basic medical sciences.
  • 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America.
  • 2002 William Osler Award, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
  • 2005-2009 Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover Award.
  • 2005 Federal Laboratory Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer.
  • 2012 Distinguished Clinical Research Achievement Award.
  • 2012 William B. Coley Award in Tumor Immunology.
  • 2012 Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize, American Society of Hematology.
  • 2012 Member of Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association of Physicians.
  • 2013 Philadelphia Award.
     

Prof. June has a high number of papers published in exceptionally high impact basic and translational/clinical journals that include Nature, Science, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotech, Nature Clinical Practice and the New England Journal of Medicine. He has been a member of the editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals including being associate editor or section editor of several journals. Furthermore, Prof. June has been a member of numerous External Advisory Committees of many reputable national and international academic institutions and foundations. 

In recognition of his breakthrough discovery of cell therapy for leukemia Prof. Carl H June is awarded the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence in the field of Cell Therapy for the term 2013-2014.

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