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Stamford-Based Cell And Gene Therapy Nonprofit Plans New York Gala

The gala committee for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. See story for IDs..
The gala committee for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. See story for IDs.. Photo Credit: Contributed by ChiChi Ubina

STAMFORD, Conn. — Stamford-based Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the nation’s only nonprofit dedicated exclusively to cell and gene therapies for cancer, will celebrate its anniversary with a gGala on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. at The Harvard Club of New York City.

Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University, will be honored at the event with the first ever Edward Netter Award for Business and Industry for his contributions to ACGT and the community. Gala speakers also include: ACGT research fellow Dr. Robert Vonderheide of the University of Pennsylvania, who will speak on the exciting breakthroughs using immunotherapy for the treatment of solid cancers; and Doug Olson, one of the first three patients treated in the groundbreaking cancer immunotherapy CAR-T clinical trial developed by ACGT research fellow and Scientific Advisory Council member, Dr. Carl June.

Tickets for the ACGT Gala are $750 and are available at acgtfoundation.org/events/ or by emailing Barbara Gallagher, ACGT national director of philanthropy at bgallagher@acgtfoundation.org.

Barbara Netter of Greenwich, ACGT’s honorary chairman of the Board and co-founder, will present the first-ever Edward Netter Award for Business and Industry to Dr.  Lahey, an ACGT Board member since 2004. Dr. Lahey embodies the qualities prized by ACGT co-founder Edward Netter: intellect, creativity, tenacity, curiosity and compassion.

He is the eighth President of Quinnipiac University, a private university located in Hamden. Upon his arrival at Quinnipiac in March of 1987, Dr. Lahey initiated a strategic planning process that has resulted in the growth of student enrollment from 2,000 to nearly 10,000 students. He also expanded Quinnipiac from a college to a university, which now offers more than 100 programs in its nine schools and colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine and Nursing.

ACGT research fellow, Dr. Robert Vonderheide, will speak about his current work in immunotherapy that is targeting pancreatic cancer and other solid tumors at the Abramson Cancer Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Vonderheide’s translational work tests novel approaches such as vaccines, antibodies, and adoptive T cells for the treatment of patients with melanoma, pancreatic cancer and other cancers. ACGT funded Dr. Vonderheide’s early research work in immunotherapy.

Doug Olson of Tinicum Township, Pa. will share the details of his experience as “patient #2” in the first CAR-T 19 immunotherapy trial in September 2010 at the University of Pennsylvania. The treatment for the trial was developed by ACGT research fellow, Dr. Carl June. Doug was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in July 1996 and has remained in remission since completing the trial.

“This Gala offers the opportunity to celebrate the successes of ACGT research fellows and honor those who make it all possible,” said John Walter, CEO and president of ACGT. “With our donors’ support, ACGT has been able to be a part of finding and funding some of the most exciting cancer treatment breakthroughs, several of which we anticipate coming to market this year.”

ACGt was founded in 2002 by Greenwich residents Barbara and Edward (1933-2011) Netter. As a national non-profit, ACGT has provided nearly $27 million in funding for cancer cell, gene and immunotherapy research in North America.

Photo: The Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), gala event committee is (left to right) Sharon Phillips, Margaret Cianci, ACGT executive director, Barbara Gallagher, Jacquie Walter, Barbara Netter, ACGT co-founder and event chair, John Walter, ACGT CEO and president, Martha Zoubek, Jenifer Howard and Tracy Holton. Not pictured is Sabrina Raquet.

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