2018 Leaders in Health Care, Achievement in Medical Research: Philip Greenberg, Mike Jensen

The researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research are Leaders in Health Care.

This article appears in print in the March 2018 issue. Click here for a free subscription.


Philip Greenberg, M.D.
Member & Head, Program in Immunology, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle | fredhutch.org 

Dr. Phil Greenberg has twice received the National Institutes of Health MERIT Award and his peers have elected him a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American College of Physicians. He led the team that first showed it is possible to extract T-cells from a sick patient’s body, isolate the desired disease-fighting T-cells, multiply them by billions in the laboratory, and infuse them back into the patient to seek and destroy particular diseased cells.

The approach has since been used to treat patients with advanced melanoma and other cancers. Greenberg developed a way to aim T-cells specifically at cancer cells, genetically engineering them to recognize a protein that “flags” tumor cells, sparing healthy cells. This strategy is in clinical trials for high-risk leukemia and lung-cancer patients, and he is developing similar approaches to targeting ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

“From the standpoint of treating malignancies, we are going to see a sea change in the number of diseases that can be treated and that can be treated effectively,” Greenberg says. “That is the exciting part of some of these cell therapies. They are not just giving responses; they do appear to be giving at least complete eradication of all detectable tumors. We need a lot more time to affirm that those represent cures, but it’s looking very promising.” 


Mike Jensen, M.D.
Director, Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle, seattlechildrens.org/research/childhood-cancer

Dr. Mike Jensen leads groundbreaking efforts to revolutionize cancer treatment through the development of T-cell immunotherapy. T-cell therapy harnesses the power of a child’s immune system to treat cancer by reprogramming immune cells so they can seek and destroy cancer cells wherever they are hiding in the body.

The therapy has seen promising results: Ninety-three percent of patients who had no other treatment options achieved complete initial remission.

Now, Jensen and his team are working to refine and improve the therapy with the hope that more patients will achieve long-term remission and, ultimately, a cure. 

See the full list of Leaders in Health Care winners here.

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