In July 2019, Pelotonia pledged $102,065,000 to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center &ndash; James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC &ndash; James) with $65 million of that investment made in support of immuno-oncology research efforts that lead to the formation of the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology (PIIO) &mdash; a comprehensive lab bench-to-bedside research initiative focused on harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. PIIO founding director Zihai Li, MD, PhD, is excited about the institute&rsquo;s first-year accomplishments, including the recruitment of eight staff members and 10 scientists with expertise ranging from development of cancer vaccines to bioinformatic and statistical modeling for high-throughput immunogenomic screening. These new team members build upon the groundbreaking research already happening at the OSUCCC &ndash; James, bringing the total number of researchers working on immuno-oncology approaches to clinical trials to over 60. &ldquo;We are passionate, curious and driven in our pursuit of unleashing the potential of immunotherapy in cancer care. Today we have a strong framework and enhanced research capabilities that position our team to make big strides in the coming years. Now it is time to do the next phase of fundamental and translational work,&rdquo; says Li. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re developing superior capabilities in immune-monitoring, artificial intelligence and immuno-informatics to accelerate the development of cancer immunotherapies. This work will ultimately result in treatments that are more effective and less toxic, perhaps even resulting in cures. It&rsquo;s a very exciting time to be part of this research,&rdquo; adds Li, who expects to recruit an additional 20 researchers to the PIIO over the next three years. That work includes ambitious plans to open up to 130 immuno-oncology clinical trials over the next five years and create a strong pipeline of new cancer immunotherapeutics, many of them driven by Ohio State discoveries that will be tested at patient bedsides. The PIIO has already opened clinical trials aimed at helping to make immuno-oncology drugs safer and more effective for patients. It also has initiated a first-in-human trial to evaluate the use of a monoclonal antibody that may sensitize patients toward antitumor immunity. Building a Framework To guide PIIO research efforts, the institute is organized into four interconnected centers of research excellence: Cancer Immuno-Genomics, a program conducted in partnership with Nationwide Children&rsquo;s Hospital that involves understanding the relationship between cancer genomics and immune evasion and includes epigenetics, neo-antigen vaccine, epitope prediction, TCR repertoire analysis, HLA typing, and CRISPR screening; Cell Therapy, where immune cells are collected from a patient&rsquo;s blood, engineered and returned to that patient to target and eradicate cancer and includes adoptive cell therapy with T cells and natural killer cells; Systems Immuno-Oncology, which seeks a better understanding of cellular systems to create more efficient and effective immunological tools to fight cancer and includes immune regulation, microbiome, NK and T cell biology, and tumor microenvironment; Translational Immuno-Oncology, an area that focuses on transforming immuno-oncology discoveries into new or improved cancer treatments applicable at patient bedsides. This team works with the Drug Development Institute at the OSUCCC &ndash; James on developing new drug therapies. Integral to each center are: Immuno-Informatics (Data Science), where big data and quantitative science is used to improve immuno-oncology research and includes machine learning, neo-antigen discovery, spatial statistics, etc.; Immune Monitoring and Discovery, which is backed by a new facility with technology that allows scientists to get a 360-degree view &mdash; down to the single-cell level &mdash; of what happens in the immune system during treatment with immuno-oncology agents. &ldquo;Now we have one clear vision and one road map to realize our common goal,&rdquo; says Li of the institute&rsquo;s strategic plan. &ldquo;In the coming year, translational immuno-oncology will be a huge area of focus and growth for us. We are aggressively working to build this program and recruit more faculty scientists to work in this space.&rdquo; Clinical Trials Underway Pending Internal Review Board (IRB) approval, a new study co-led by Lang Li, PhD, and Zihai Li, MD, PhD, will examine the efficacy and adverse effects associated with cancer immunotherapies. This study will scrutinize structured and unstructured data from electronic health records of cancer patients who are receiving immunotherapies. Another trial will evaluate a monoclonal antibody that has the potential to sensitize patients toward antitumor immunity. This first-in-human trial is being tested in patients with locally advanced and metastatic solid tumors at the OSUCCC &ndash; James. To learn more about the PIIO, visit cancer.osu.edu/PIIO.