Farmington, Conn. – Internationally recognized clinical oncologist and cancer immunologist A. Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., will join The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine faculty as professor and associate director of cancer immunology.
Science magazine recognized cancer immunotherapy as the “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2013, and Palucka is one of the leaders in this field. Her research exploits dendritic cells, which control the body’s immune response to tumors, as the basis for new vaccines against melanomas and other human cancers.
In a recent interview in the journal Nature, Palucka described how she used this approach to treat the pancreatic cancer of Nobel prizewinner Ralph M. Steinman using dendritic cells—the very cells Steinman and colleagues had discovered. “Although we can’t say for sure that this treatment was responsible, Ralph survived for 4.5 years after his diagnosis—something that only around 5% of patients with this disease achieve,” she told the interviewer.
“The diagnostic aspect of genomic medicine is very important, but so is the therapy component,” says Charles Lee, Ph.D., director of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. “We need to keep coming up with creative ways to utilize a person’s genetic information to develop novel and effective therapies to human diseases. Dr. Palucka has had amazing success in this area and I am absolutely delighted to have her join our team here in Connecticut.”
Palucka is the Michael A.E. Ramsay Chair for Cancer Immunology Research and director of the Ralph M. Steinman Center for Cancer Vaccines at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR) in Dallas, where she is principal investigator of a large U-19 research award from the Human Immunology Project Consortium. She is also professor of oncological sciences and clinical immunology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Palucka earned her M.D. in 1984 from the Warsaw Medical Academy in Poland and completed her Ph.D. in hematology and immunology in 1993 at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. She joined the BIIR in 1998 following a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Jean C. Gluckman at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France.
“I am thrilled that Karolina has decided to join JAX Genomic Medicine,” says Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., professor at JAX Genomic Medicine and director of immunological sciences. “Karolina is a terrific scientist and brings novel immunotherapy methods to the cancer and immunology programs at JAX. She also brings considerable experience in the design of humanized mice.”
Palucka will join the Jackson Laboratory faculty on March 1.
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine is currently in temporary facilities on the University of Connecticut Health Sciences campus in Farmington, Conn., while an 183,500-square-foot permanent facility is under construction and scheduled to open in October 2014.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with a mission to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.