About the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) has established the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology (PIIO), a comprehensive bench-to-clinical-trial research initiative that will accelerate advanced immunotherapies that harness the immune system to fight cancer.
Zihai Li, MD, PhD, a renowned medical oncologist and immunologist in the ever-expanding field of cancer immunotherapy, recently joined the OSUCCC – James to serve as founding director of the PIIO. Dr. Li is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP). He came to Ohio State from the Medical University of South Carolina, where he was a tenured professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Hollings Cancer Center.
His research and clinical expertise will build upon current immunotherapy work at the OSUCCC – James to create a world-class PIIO that will be a leader in basic and clinical immunology research, including prevention and survivorship.
With primary interests in the mechanisms of immune regulation in cancer, Dr. Li’s research team has made seminal contributions to understanding the immunological properties of heat shock proteins in cancer immunotherapy and immune tolerance. His current interests focus on developing better immuno-therapeutics against cancer by reprogramming the tumor microenvironment, including regulatory T cells, thrombocytes and unfolded protein response. His work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, including a program project grant from the National Cancer Institute and four RO1 grants for which he is principal investigator.
The OSUCCC – James has a superb track record in cancer immunology research that features groundbreaking preclinical, translational and clinical studies. But much remains to be discovered and translated to individualized patient care. The new PIIO will help bring more hope to cancer patients in need of curative therapies.
The PIIO will be a part of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, drawing from new and existing faculties across multiple colleges at Ohio State. The development of the PIIO is underway with a strategic planning process, a robust recruitment strategy and the establishment of new shared resources. This effort is also guided collectively by both the internal and external scientific advisory boards whose membership is composed of multiple world leaders in the area of IO including Drs. Lisa Butterfield, Lieping Chen, Elizabeth Jaffee, Carl June and Robert Schreiber. The institute will contain several centers of excellence, such as fundamental cancer immunology, cell therapy, immuno-genomics and systems immunology. It will establish top-notch immunotherapy platforms in immune discovery and monitoring to propel (IO) to the next level and support existing and new IO clinical trials. It will train the next generation of IO researchers. And it will lay fertile ground for IO collaborations with industries and other IO centers around the nation.
The institute was launched with a $65 million investment from Pelotonia, a non-profit organization that strives to change the world by mobilizing purpose-driven communities and accelerating funding for innovative cancer research. Pelotonia develops and delivers experiences—like its signature annual three-day cycling event—to achieve its shared vision of a world where communities are healthier and all people are empowered to live their best lives. Over the past 10 years the Pelotonia community has raised more than $184 million for cancer research initiatives at the OSUCCC – James. To date, those dollars have generated innovative research, invested in the brightest minds and ideas, and provided tools and technology needed to help create a cancer-free world.