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The Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida, a leading nonprofit immunological research institute, is pleased to announce the appointment of Keith Knutson, Ph.D., Program Director. Dr. Knutson will be joining VGTI Florida along with several members of his lab. His work will focus on immunotherapeutic approaches in breast and ovarian cancers and how vaccines can boost immunity and help the body’s defense system fight off these cancers.

Dr. Knutson recently received a $3.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to identify immunologic biomarkers or proteins that could be useful in identifying breast cancer patients who are unlikely to respond to certain therapies. This can help to determine whether a drug used in specific patient groups can be effective or whether these patients should be treated with a different therapeutic regimen.

“Cancer is an important area of research focus for VGTI Florida, and Dr. Knutson’s work will help make great strides in the understanding and treatment of breast and ovarian cancers,” said Jay Nelson, Ph.D., founder and Executive Director of the institute. “Dr. Knutson is a leader in his field and we welcome his expertise in treating two serious diseases that affect so many millions of women around the world,” said Rafick Pierre Sékaly, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Director of VGTI Florida.

Dr. Knutson is currently the Director of the Ovarian Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota and is also a Member of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program Integration Panel, the primary body that makes decisions on funding. He is the Co-Director of the Mayo Clinic Immune Monitoring Core which is engaged in providing a variety of different immune monitoring and phenotyping services for research purposes across a variety of scientific disciplines including tumor immunology, rheumatoid arthritis, and infectious diseases.

Dr. Knutson has co-authored numerous articles in scientific journals including The Journal of Immunology; The American Journal of Pathology; Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy and many others. He has a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Washington and earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Georgia. He completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one in the Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington and another at the Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia. Following postdoctoral training, Dr. Knutson was awarded the Howard Temin Award from the National Cancer Institute.

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