The Center of Excellence for Pediatric Immuno-Oncology (CEPIO) will serve as the central hub to advance and coordinate cross-disciplinary studies in immuno-oncology across St. Jude basic and clinical Departments, Cores, and Centers. Co-led by Hongbo Chi, PhD, of the Department of Immunology, and Stephen Gottschalk, MD, Chair of the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, CEPIO operates with support from, and in collaboration with, the Comprehensive Cancer Center
St. Jude investigators in the Departments of Immunology and Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy have made remarkable advances in both fundamental and translational immuno-oncology research over the past five years. By harnessing the power of the immune system to tackle cancer, immuno-oncology has revolutionized cancer treatment especially in the relapsed and refractory disease settings, as highlighted by the clinical success of immune checkpoint blockade and adoptive cell therapy using CAR T cells.
Despite these remarkable advances, immunotherapy for pediatric cancer remains a challenge. Thus, there is an urgent need for discovery-based research, to define the immune landscape of pediatric cancer and to discover immune mechanisms and new targets for pediatric cancer, with the aim of understanding and creating the conditions that support effective immunotherapeutic interventions. Likewise, there is a need to strengthen translational research focused on target discovery, immune cell engineering, and combinatorial, adoptive immunotherapies with the goal of evaluating and refining these approaches in early phase clinical studies.
CEPIO will focus on the following research areas in pediatric immuno-oncology:
Consistently ranked Top 10 in the U.S. in Pediatric Cancer, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children, and home to the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. The St. Jude campus is a truly unique research environment, encompassing state-of-the-art High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities, world-leading oncology basic research, and outstanding Shared Resources and Core Facilities. The $412M Advanced Research Center, opened in 2021, doubles the campus’s research space and adds support for an additional 1,000 employees.