The Clinical Research Forum, an advocacy group for clinical research, has recognized the groundbreaking work of UVA researcher and pediatric oncologist Daniel “Trey” Lee, MD, as one of 2017’s most important clinical research studies. With his colleagues at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, and in collaboration with Stanford University, Lee was among one of the early groups of researchers worldwide to infuse children with multiply relapsed or refractory leukemia with CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR T) cells. This approach genetically modifies a patient’s own immune cells to identify and kill cancer cells. Lee has continued this work since being recruited to UVA last year, where he is part of the UVA Cancer Center.
“So many excellent, high-impact clinical trials are performed every year. To have our work chosen as one of the top 10 in the country is an incredible honor. I am so grateful for our incredible team of investigators, without whom we wouldn’t have such an impact on kids with cancer,” Lee says. “Our results have paved the way for combination CAR T-cell therapies in leukemia, aimed at overcoming one of CAR therapy’s major obstacles—tumors changing their proteins to escape CAR T cells. That we are pioneering this in children, before adults, is amazing.”
This is the second consecutive year the Clinical Research Forum has honored a researcher at UVA Health System. Last year, the group recognized UVA neurosurgeon Jeff Elias, MD, and his colleague Paul Fishman, a neurologist at the University of Maryland, for their pioneering work with focused ultrasound.