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CHOP Establishes the Susan S. and Stephen P. Kelly Center for Cancer Immunotherapy

Published on March 28, 2022 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 11 months 1 week ago
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Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD

Dr. Stephan Grupp, a pioneer of the first cellular immunotherapy in childhood cancer, is the inaugural director of CHOP’s new Susan S. and Stephen P. Kelly Center for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia established the Susan S. and Stephen P. Kelly Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, a first-of-its-kind hub for pediatric cancer immunotherapy, naming it in recognition of a transformative gift from Susan and Steve Kelly, local philanthropists and long-time supporters of CHOP.

Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, director of Translational Research in the Center for Childhood Cancer Research will lead the Center, enabling CHOP to create a more robust infrastructure to expand pediatric clinical trials, accelerate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of novel treatments, and increase the pipeline of innovative therapeutics and diagnostics. The Center also will help CHOP to recruit and train top investigators and postdoctoral researchers to become the next generation of cancer immunotherapy experts, as well as increase equity and access to cell therapy clinical trials for socioeconomically disadvantaged patients.

"Cell and gene therapy is a major emphasis at CHOP," said Dr. Grupp, pioneer of the first cellular immunotherapy in childhood cancer. "With this significant investment from Steve and Susan, CHOP is now positioned, unlike any other academic medical center, to leverage our clinical and scientific expertise in the cell and gene therapy space to better care for pediatric patients and families in Philadelphia and around the world."

Steve and Susan Kelly have a longstanding partnership with CHOP's Cancer Center and have supported Dr. Grupp's research in developing a type of cellular therapy known as CAR T-cell therapy for children with relapsed B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of leukemia found in children. In August 2017, the first CAR T-cell therapy was approved by the FDA due to the combined efforts of Dr. Grupp's research team and investigators from the University of Pennsylvania and Novartis Pharmaceuticals

To date, CHOP's top ranked pediatric oncology program, has treated more than 440 children with CAR T-cell therapy, and recently published study findings that show a more than 95% remission rate for patients with relapsed ALL. Emily Whitehead, the first child to undergo experimental CAR T-cell therapy treatment, remains cancer free nearly 10 years later.

"The Kelly's unwavering commitment to CHOP and the Cancer Center will allow us to forge ahead and identify new therapies for sick children sooner," Dr. Grupp said, "bringing us one step closer to our ultimate goal: prescribing every child diagnosed with cancer a targeted therapy based on their genetic makeup, their cancer's makeup, and the makeup of their own immune system."

The Kelly family's gift will also advance CHOP's ability to deliver cell therapies to more patients, using procedures to genetically modify a patient's own bone marrow stem cells to cure inherited blood disorders, which affect more than 100,000 patients in the United States.

"This is just the beginning of bringing the cell therapy revolution to patients with inherited disorders" Dr. Grupp said.

For more information, see the CHOP press release.