Carl H. June, MD

Aileen K. Roberts & Joseph Neubauer
John & Leigh Middleton

Carl H. June, MD is the ninety-second recipient of the prestigious Philadelphia Award. This honor is bestowed upon Dr. June for his leadership in science and medical research. Dr. June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of translational research in the Abramson Cancer Center.

H is team’s cancer gene therapy research has triggered vast professional interest and global media coverage in well over a thousand news outlets since its first round of groundbreaking results were published in August 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine. Those papers detailed the world’s first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to create designer T cells aimed at battling cancerous tumors.

Of the first three desperately ill chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients treated with the new approach, two went into complete remissions following their treatment; a third patient achieved a partial remission. Most recently, his team has presented more stunning results of the ongoing trial for patients with advanced blood cancers: of 12 patients treated with the protocol as of December 2012, nine – including two children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – had responded, and still today, two of the first three adult patients in the trial remain healthy and in remission, more than two and a half years after their treatment.

T he new cells’ persistence has held up, too – tests show the modified T cells are still circulating in their bodies, primed to attack new cancer cells if they reappear. The new treatment approach far exceeded the expectations of the Penn investigators and of other top cancer experts, who had been buffeted by years of false starts and disappointments in the field of cancer gene therapy.

Dr. June’s academic achievements include more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, election to the Institute of Medicine -- one of the nation's highest honors in biomedicine -- and the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America. Dr. June is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Baylor College of Medicine. He completed graduate training in immunology and malaria at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

He has received numerous awards and grants for his innovative work, including a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Freedom to Discover Research Grant, the William B. Coley Award from the Cancer Research Institute, the Ernest Beutler Prize from the American Society of Hematology, and the Joan Miller and Linda Bernstein Gene Therapy Ovarian Cancer Award from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy.

Recognized by his peers and leaders around the world, Dr. June’s cancer gene therapy research will forever impact the medical field and Philadelphians alike. Dr. June’s commitment and service to this work truly embodies the spirit of the Philadelphia Award.