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Mass General Hosts Inaugural Immunology Symposium

Innovation Story

Mass General Hosts Inaugural Immunology Symposium

Mass General Cancer Center global immunology program connects respected researchers with the next generation of scientists.

Mass General Giving
March 25, 2021

This week (March 22-24), the Mass General Cancer Center hosted the Arthur and Sandra Irving Cancer Immunology Symposium, virtually bringing together 14 accomplished faculty mentors who discussed their research, discoveries, and distinguished careers in cancer immunology with 44 talented young scientists and physicians from around the world. Among the participants were advanced post-doctoral researchers and graduate students and, starting faculty establishing their research programs.

The symposium, made possible by longtime Mass General supporters and benefactors Arthur, Sandra, and Sarah Irving, helped scientists at the early stages of their professional lives develop strong ties with senior faculty mentors while learning about the diverse scientific discovery and possible career paths within the field of cancer immunology research, which has grown tremendously in the past decade and positively impacted the lives of cancer patients throughout the world.

“The symposium and other related efforts address an unmet need in cancer research, and specifically cancer immunology.”

A Catalyst for the Next Generation of Cancer Immunologists

“Our program is a catalyst for the next generation of cancer immunologists to reach the highest level of impact,” said Nir Hacohen, PhD, Director, Mass General Center for Cancer Immunotherapy for Cancer Research. “The symposium and other related efforts address an unmet need in cancer research, and specifically cancer immunology, as we ensure early-career scientists are given more models, tools and resources to break paradigms, make key discoveries and translate those findings into new therapies. Together, we will be able to create a much brighter future for patients and families dealing with cancer.”

Faculty mentors covered a wide array of topics including the design, execution, and evaluation of research programs, overcoming obstacles in career paths, reinforcing the value of partnership and collaboration and reviewing all aspects of fundraising and publishing. The program included lectures, panels, small working groups with faculty mentors, and review sessions to help participants integrate “lessons learned” into current and future work.

Nir Hacohen, PhD
Nir Hacohen, PhD

To further support career development, participants had an opportunity to update their research statements. A key part of the planning process for researchers, research statements summarize research achievements, describe current work and its potential impact, and envision plans for upcoming efforts.

Making Progress Possible

“We are grateful to have been a part of the Cancer Immunology Symposium and its spirit of togetherness in bringing together the world’s leading doctors, scientists, and researchers in immunotherapy,” said Sandra Irving. “We are especially grateful to Dr. Nir Hacohen for his vision for this initiative as well as the leadership of the hospital, Dr. Peter Slavin and Dr. David Ryan who together believe strongly, as we do, in the significance of research and mentorship.

“The relationships established and renewed, transcend all borders as does the knowledge gathered, in providing more answers, presenting new options and importantly giving hope.”

The knowledge and experience shared over the last few days will have deep, immeasurable meaning especially to the young scientists who participated in terms of support, encouragement, innovation, inspiration and excitement in helping to write the next chapter on immunotherapy. The relationships established and renewed, transcend all borders as does the knowledge gathered, in providing more answers, presenting new options and importantly giving hope.”

A cancer survivor, Sandra Irving knows the value of cutting-edge research, training, and compassionate care. Together with her family, she helped establish the David P. Ryan, MD, Endowed Chair in Cancer Research as well as a special fund in Gastrointestinal Immuno-Oncology.

In recent years, the Irving family established Chairs in both Cardiology and Oncology and funded the hospital’s critical immunology research. In addition to underwriting this year’s symposium, the Irvings have generously supported a number of other educational seminars and retreats.

The symposium was taught by Faculty Mentors representing research institutions from around the globe:

Event participant Avinash Das Sahu, PhD, of Mass General and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, shared how much he valued being a part of the symposium: “We all have robust scientific training, but what is lacking in most PhD and Postdoc training is the opportunity to interact with senior mentors and getting training on career development: mentoring, leadership, hiring and writing grants. The symposium has filled that gap. I’m really thankful to Nir Nacohen, all of the organizers and the Irving family.”

For more information on the symposium, please contact us.

An integral part of one of the world’s most distinguished academic medical centers, the Mass General Cancer Center’s commitment to eradicating cancer is fueled by scientific investigation conducted as part of the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. Through a powerful synergy between scientists in the laboratories and physicians at the bedside, the Cancer Center fosters innovation in basic, translational, and clinical research. Learn more.