Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Physician-Scientist Receives Outstanding Honor in Medicine for Work in Cell and Gene Therapy

Published on in CHOP News

Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, Chief of the Cell Therapy and Transplant Section in the Division of Oncology and Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been elected into the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), effective October 1, 2019.

Members of the NAM annually select a number of professionals to honor exceptional achievements in health and medicine. Grupp was recognized for “pioneering the development of an entirely novel therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and leading the first global engineered cell therapy trial that demonstrated effective sustained ALL remissions, making him a leader in cancer immunotherapy.”

“It is an incredible honor to take a seat at this table at the time cellular and gene therapies are advancing to the fore,” said Grupp. “New fields of medicine are being invented in front of our eyes. For children with fatal cancers, the urgency has always been there. Now, we can truly accelerate cures. From successfully treating our first patient with incurable acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Emily Whitehead, with the cellular gene therapy CAR T, to the first-ever US Food and Drug Administration approval of the CAR T therapy tisagenlecleucel in five short years, is an unprecedented trajectory. It is an amazing opportunity to join this distinguished group of clinicians and researchers to coach, cheer and continue to push hard to advance these new approaches.”

“As the leader of our Cancer Immunotherapy team, Dr. Grupp was essentially on call 24/7, for five years, leading global clinical trials of CAR T-cell therapy, said Joseph W. St. Geme, MD, Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “There are few among us who know the tremendous time commitment, bravery, and unwavering belief in better outcomes for children it requires to do what he has done. We echo the sentiment of his colleagues, our families, and young patients given another chance at life in saying he is highly deserving of this recognition.”

Grupp has been an attending physician and oncology researcher at CHOP since 1996, after earning his MD and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Cincinnati. He completed his clinical training in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology at Boston Children's Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard Medical School, performing postdoctoral research in immunology at Harvard. He is the recipient of a Drake Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, and a 2018 recipient of the William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award, part of the Penn Medicine Awards of Excellence.

His outstanding contribution to oncology is in the clinical development of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy for relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and young adults. Collaborating with Dr. Carl June’s team at the University of Pennsylvania, Grupp’s lab did many of the preclinical in vivo studies, and then developed the first pediatric trial and treated the first pediatric patient at CHOP with CAR T-cell therapy in 2012.

Grupp joins another CHOP faculty member and gene therapy expert, Beverly L. Davidson, PhD, Chief Scientific Strategy Officer and Director of the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics, also elected this year to the NAM.

“CHOP has the brightest minds in cellular and gene therapy under one roof, coupled with unparalleled experience with the first-to-market approved gene therapies, and our unique infrastructure makes it possible to deliver these therapies, said Bryan Wolf, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Chief Scientific Officer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. “All of this powers our pediatric research hospital to aggressively pursue and lead treatment breakthroughs. Dr. Davidson’s and Dr. Grupp’s elections to the National Academy of Medicine are very well deserved.”

Since 1970, the NAM has annually elected exceptional individuals for outstanding contributions to health and medicine. This year 100 new members have been chosen for this prestigious honor.

New elections will be formally welcomed to the NAM during next year’s annual meeting, which is also the NAM’s 50th Anniversary, scheduled for October 2020.

Contact: Amy Burkholder, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-6083

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