November 28, 2005

Karen Kreeger
(215) 349-5658


Penn Vaccine Researcher Receives Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Freedom To Discover Research Grant
Carl June, MD, Awarded Half a Million Dollars to Study Cancer Immunotherapy
and Design Patient-Specific Cancer Vaccines

(Philadelphia, PA) - Carl June, MD, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of Translational Research at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, was awarded the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grant. These five-year grants support pioneering, risk-taking, basic research scientists.

“It's an extreme honor,” notes June. “It's a wonderful privilege and the timing is perfect. We will use this to take advantage of the momentum from the research advances we have already achieved. This award gives us the ability to test our promising new therapies and is especially valuable, given the present climate of flat federal funding for cancer research.”

The grants-each $500,000-can be used by the researchers as they see fit, without restrictions. This year 13 researchers-in the fields of cancer, nutrition, neuroscience, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, and synthetic organic chemistry-were awarded a total of $6.5 million.

June will use the grant to continue his pioneering work on developing immune-system-based cancer vaccines. These vaccines, which are used to help treat patients already diagnosed with cancer, enlist a patient's own immune cells to recognize and kill tumor cells. “So far, we're testing this approach to develop customized cancer vaccines in leukemia and in patients with solid tumors like lung and ovarian cancers,” notes June.

The long-term goal of this research is to develop effective therapies for cancers that are not curable with currently available chemotherapy. Another objective is to test whether patient-specific tumor vaccines can prevent tumors from developing in patients who have an increased risk of developing cancer.


PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System comprises: its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.

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