December 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon signing the National Cancer Act of 1971, which broke new ground by proposing increased federal funding for research and treatment of one specific disease. On Dec. 1–2, 2021, the Richard Nixon Foundation hosted the Nixon National Cancer Conference at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) pediatric oncologist Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, who is Section Chief of the Cellular Therapy and Transplant Section and Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, was among the Nobel laureates, cancer center directors, clinicians, researchers, and political and public health officials to serve as panelists for this historic conference. Dr. Grupp’s 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.
The panel he participated in, titled “The National Cancer Act - Saving Lives, From Hopelessness to Hope,” discussed progress in the clinical care of cancer patients. Dr. Grupp identified immunotherapy as one of the most significant treatment advances in the last 50 years. “The idea that we may actually be able to go chemo-free for so many more of our patients in the future is incredibly exciting,” he noted.
Dr. Grupp’s lab developed the first pediatric trial and treated the first pediatric patient at CHOP with CAR T-cell therapy in 2012, followed by leading all the studies that led to U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval of the first CAR T product in 2017.
Watch a recording of the conference. Dr. Grupp’s panel begins at the 1:20 mark.