Internationally-recognized cancer clinician and researcher Takami Sato, M.D., Ph.D., who serves as the Director of the Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Program in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, has been named the first K. Hasumi Professor of Medical Oncology.
The endowed professorship is a generous gift of Kenichiro Hasumi, M.D., a cancer immunotherapy specialist and long-time collaborator and supporter of Dr. Sato. The professorship is named in honor of both him and his late father, Kiichiro Hasumi, M.D., a renowned physician-scientist who spent his career studying cancer vaccines.
This is the only known endowed professorship of medical oncology at a medical college in the United States established by a Japanese citizen.
Dr. Sato's investiture ceremony will take place on March 6 at Thomas Jefferson University in the Dorrance H. Hamilton Building.
"It is a great honor to be the first physician named as the recipient of this Professorship," said Dr. Sato, who is also a member of the executive committee at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson (KCC). "This is especially gratifying for me, as Dr. Hasumi and I share a common passion in working toward better cancer immunotherapies. His continued support will no doubt help push Jefferson's research program to even greater heights, as we work to improve the lives of patients around the world with innovative treatment approaches to metastatic uveal melanoma and other cancers."
"I'm humbled by his support and overall longstanding interest in Jefferson and its efforts," Dr. Sato added.
As director of the Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Program at Jefferson, Dr. Sato heads one of the few programs in the United States treating melanoma originating in the eye. Although uveal melanoma is the most common adult eye tumor, the disease is very rare, affecting only six or seven people per one million. This cancer commonly spreads to the liver, and patients who do not receive treatment live an average of six months. Dr. Sato has devoted his career to improving understanding of this disease and developing new treatments, particularly for patients who are not eligible for surgery.
Dr. Sato's studies focus on cancer immunotherapy, or the use of the immune system to fight cancer. His clinical trials involving a procedure called immunoembolization have shown promising results.
In immunoembolization, a chemical to stimulate patients' immune systems is administered to the hepatic artery that feeds the liver tumor and then the artery is blocked, cutting off oxygen to tumors and keeping the injected medicine in the tumor. In one trial, one-third of patients had tumor shrinkage, and another third experienced no tumor growth. Dr. Sato is building on these outcomes as he continues to examine methods of treating uveal melanoma and delaying its progression.
Dr. Sato came to Jefferson in 1991 after being selected as an exchange fellow by the Noguchi Medical Research Institute, where he now serves as chair of the Board of Trustees. He began collaborating with Dr. Kenichiro Hasumi in 1997, and their partnership has resulted in the development of new and unique cancer immunotherapies.
Dr. Hasumi is specialized in cancer immunotherapy and terminal care. He is also a researcher and visionary, focused on the development of cancer vaccines and improved clinical treatments to achieve better patient outcomes with a higher quality of life. He is responsible for immunotherapy by use of the Hasumi vaccine, which has been used by over 100,000 cancer patients during the past 50 years in more than 20 countries, without the occurrence of any severe side effects. He has also developed therapeutic vaccine therapies using dendritic cells.