Chief, Laboratory of Molecular and Tumor Immunology
Harder Family Chair for Cancer Research
Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center
Earle A. Chiles Research Institute
Providence Cancer Center
Education and training
- University of Detroit (B.S. and M.S.)
- Wayne State University (Ph.D.)
- National Cancer Institute (fellowship in cancer immunotherapy)
I was on the faculty at the University of Michigan when I heard from Dr. Walter Urba at Providence. He had a vision to develop a cancer immunotherapy program and asked me to join him. I’ve been here over 23 years. I’m inspired by our patients, donors, research team and the progress we’ve achieved so far to finish cancer.
What are your hobbies?
For the last 11 years I’ve been developing UbiVac, a biotechnology start-up that Dr. Hong-Ming Hu and I founded based on cancer vaccine technology developed at Providence. We’ve completed one trial and are planning another to combine two agents developed at Providence for patients with breast cancer.
What’s a great Providence memory?
Twenty years ago we successfully treated a young woman with advanced breast cancer using a first-in-human cancer vaccine. I saw her again last year, and she described watching her two daughters grow to adulthood.
Who were your mentors?
My sixth-grade science teacher, Sister Marion, instilled a love of science. Dr. William Nunez at the University of Detroit introduced me to immunology, and Dr. Stephen A. Rosenberg at the NCI taught me how to move scientific discoveries in animals into new therapies for humans.
Why does philanthropy matter?
A major component of a scientist’s work is submitting grants, and it can take a year or two to receive any money. Philanthropy allows us to start a project faster and fill in financial gaps. At Providence, philanthropy has played an important role in every first-in-human study we’ve performed. Also due to philanthropy, I’m honored to hold the Harder Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research, which allows Providence and our patients to participate in the global immunotherapy community.