Pitt Immunologist Recognized for Innovative Cancer Research

By: Cyndy Patton

Pitt Immunologist Recognized for Innovative Cancer ResearchDr. Olivera Finn, distinguished professor at the University of Pittsburgh and founding chair of the Department of Immunology, received a top award for her groundbreaking cancer research during the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Finn was called a “true pioneer in cancer research” as she was presented with the Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology from AACR and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI).

She is credited with identifying the first tumor-associated T cell target on human adenocarcinomas in 1989. Her research group also identified certain antibodies in cancers of the breast, pancreas and colon, which led to the development of a potential cancer vaccine currently being tested in clinical trials.

With her family and colleagues in attendance, Finn told the audience the award has a deeper, more personal meaning for her.

“I have read everything Dr. Old ever wrote and cut my immunology teeth on his research papers,” said Finn. “He is a wonderful scientist and was a true gentleman. The dearest thing about this award is that his name will forever be on my CV.”

Finn’s research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) continuously since 1984, and her current research is supported by the NCI Outstanding Investigator Award. She is the former director of the  Pitt Cancer Institute (UPCI) Cancer Immunology Program and currently serves on editorial boards of many cancer journals and advisory boards of several cancer centers and companies.

She was presented the award by Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, chief executive of CRI, along with Dr. Laurie Glimcher, CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and chairperson of the AACR selection committee.

Dr. Old is considered by many as the “Founding Father of Modern Tumor Immunology.”

The award in his name recognizes an active cancer immunologist who has done outstanding, innovative and impactful research in cancer immunology.