Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and provost for medical affairs of Cornell University, is a winner of the 2012 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Immunology from the Cancer Research Institute for her outstanding achievements in immunology and cancer research.
The William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Immunology was established by the Cancer Research Institute in 1975 in honor of Dr. William B. Coley, the father of the Institute's late founder, Helen Coley Nauts.
This award is presented to scientists who have made significant achievements in the field of basic immunology that deepened the understanding of the immune system's response to disease -- including cancer -- promising further progress in the development of novel and effective future immunotherapies.
As a leading immunologist, Dr. Glimcher's research discoveries have helped improve understanding of the human immune system and how to manipulate it to better fight cancer. The Coley Award was presented to Dr. Glimcher at the Cancer Research Institute's 26th annual Awards Dinner hosted Oct. 17 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. She shares this year's award with Dr. Ken Murphy, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Dr. Richard Flavell, from Yale University. The honorees are recognized for their pioneering work to define the transcription factors that regulate CD4+ T cell differentiation.
"I am honored and humbled to receive this prestigious immunology research award from the Cancer Research Institute," says Dr. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, who is also a member of the Cancer Research Institute's Scientific Advisory Council. "Research discoveries identified about T cells hold tremendous promise for enhancing our knowledge of the fundamental immune responses involved in malignant diseases. Together, our steadfast progress can catapult cancer care to the next level of discovery to develop innovative therapies that improve the lives of cancer patients."
Dr. Glimcher has made significant contributions to cytokine research, particularly as it relates to inflammatory diseases of the immune system and cancer immunology. Cytokines are protein molecules secreted by the nervous system and immune system that are used for intercellular communication.
Her primary research specialty is cytokine-specific lymphocyte subtypes. Dr. Glimcher's research has investigated the genetic bases of cytokine expression in T helper lymphocytes. Her research interests are the biochemical and genetic approaches that elucidate the molecular pathways that regulate cell development and activation of lymphocyte subtypes such as CD4 T helper. The complex regulatory pathways governing T helper cell responses are critical for both the development of protective immunity and for the pathophysiologic immune responses underlying cancers. In 1996, she discovered that development of T cells, which are important in allergy and asthma, is regulated by the transcription factor c-maf, a proto-oncogene.
Also, Dr. Glimcher's research laboratory has studied the transcriptional pathways that control important immune system checkpoints, leading to many discoveries, including the T-bet transcription factor, which helps regulate a variety of adaptive and innate immune functions. In a landmark paper published in the journal Cell, her laboratory identified T-bet as the master regulator of T lymphocyte helper cells that are vital for fighting off pathogens and cancer. This paper has gone on to be cited over 1,100 times in the literature and has revolutionized the understanding of immunological lineage commitment.