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Lawson one of two Canadian organizations represented in Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s Sparkathon

The SITC Sparkathon brings together young investigators to solve challenges in cancer immunotherapy

Dr. Saman Maleki with his SITC Sparkathon team members

Lawson research associate Dr. Saman Maleki (third from left) with his SITC Sparkathon team members.

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Dr. Saman Maleki, a Lawson Health Research Institute research associate at London Health Sciences Centre’s London Regional Cancer Program, was one of two Canadians chosen to participate in the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITCSparkathon. The new program, which the SITC launched this year, brings together young investigators to collaboratively explore and solve major issues facing the cancer immunotherapy field.

The 29 emerging leaders in the field selected for the inaugural SITC Sparkathon represent academic and medical institutes from across the world and have expertise in a variety of different disciplines.

In August 2017 the participants met for a retreat in Chicago, Illinois where they formed a think tank to consider a comprehensive list of key priorities in the field. They then selected projects to develop into full proposals that provide a solution to one or more of the identified challenges. They were divided into three groups, each responsible for a different project. The teams were provided with business experts who served as coaches to support the development of the proposals.

A panel of judges selected the top proposals and awarded funds that the participants will use to implement the projects in the following 12-18 months. The proposal Dr. Maleki helped develop with his group was awarded $75,000.

“It is a great privilege and honor to participate in this new initiative. During the SITC Sparkathon retreat, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the most brilliant minds working in the field of cancer immunotherapy, including our mentors, judges, SITC leadership and other participants,” says Dr. Maleki.

The participants will present their findings at the SITC’s 33rd Annual Meeting in November 2018 in Washington, D.C. Project outcomes will also be considered for publication in the Journal of ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.

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