What Is Precision Oncology?

Head and Neck Surgical Service at MSK

Surgeons with the Head and Neck Surgical Service at MSK remove more than 1,800 tumors per year, giving us unparalleled expertise. We offer our patients access to clinical trials of state-of-the-art treatment, including radiotherapy, targeted chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

Bedside to Bench and Back

IPOP focuses on translational research and discovery, leveraging the incredible opportunities presented by MSK’s clinical leadership in immuno-oncology and clinical trials. Ultimately, we seek to offer immunogenomic profiling to investigators for patients receiving immunotherapy, through clinical trials or commercial treatments. Beside-to-bench tissue procurement has traditionally been logistically difficult, but can now be seamlessly integrated into highly optimized standard operating procedures. We collaborate with clinical investigators to study tissue (archival, frozen, or fresh) obtained directly from the clinic, operating room, or interventional suite. This material is then processed in the laboratory in a manner optimized for the ultimate immunogenomic deliverables. Data analyses are made available to the team via the cBio for immunogenomics interface, facilitating further collaborations and investigation.

Immunogenomics and Precision Oncology Platform

Flagship Projects

Kidney Cancer Precision Immunotherapy

Principal Investigators:  Robert Motzer, Timothy Chan

Genitourinary Team:  Paul Russo, Chung-Han Lee, A. Ari Hakimi

Goals and design:

  • Which kidney cancer patients respond to immunotherapy?
    • exceptional responders
    • prospective trials
  • How do we make kidney cancers that do not respond to current immunotherapies to responsive?
    • Test combinations of immune checkpoint blockade agents for kidney cancer to enhance responder rates
    • Characterize clinically important neo-antigens
Head and Neck Cancer Precision Immunotherapy

Project Leads: Luc Morris, Richard Wong, Timothy Chan

Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas are among the most immune-infiltrated human cancers, and many tumors are poised to respond to immunotherapy, in some cases related to high mutational load in tobacco-associated disease, and in other cases related to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Early data show impressive and sometimes durable responses in patients with advanced head and neck cancer. Nevertheless, the majority of patients currently do not experience benefit from immune checkpoint therapy, and much work remains to be done to optimize the number of patients who benefit and the durability of tumor control.

The goals of this project are to conduct correlative research for ongoing clinical trials in head and neck cancer, and to support the translational research infrastructure to facilitate the next steps of clinical investigation.

  • Open Trials:
    • Phase II: Nivolumab, with and without Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (15-253)
    • Phase I/II: Nivolumab as a neo-adjuvant
      • Principal Investigators:  Luc Morris, Shrujal Baxi
  • Upcoming Trials:
    • Phase III: Cisplatin + radiation therapy, with and without Avelumab (anti-PDL1) in locally advanced head and neck cancer (LA-HNSCC)

Additional Resources

Immunotherapy at MSK
Cancer is smart, but your immune system is smarter. Discover how Memorial Sloan Kettering is deploying immunotherapy to fight cancer.

Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
A unique collaboration of immunologists at MSK and five other academic medical centers that is devoted to pursuing research in cancer immunotherapy.

Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
This center is focused on developing therapies that act by stimulating or strengthening the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.