UC San Diego and La Jolla Institute for ImmunologyDr. Ezra Cohen and Dr. Stephen SchoenbergerDr. Ezra Cohen, Dr. Stephen Schoenberger, Dr. Catriona JamiesonBanner Cancer Immunotherapy Middle

In collaboration with La Jolla Institute for Immunology, the San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy (SDCPI) was established as an academic center at UC San Diego Health in June of 2017 in an effort to make personalized cancer immunotherapy available to all patients, regardless of what cancer they are facing. Every cancer is different and every patient’s immune response is distinct. Our approach focuses on this reality by personalizing treatment to create transformative change.

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What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy unleashes the body’s immune system to fight cancer.  While the immune system typically recognizes and eradicates mutated cells, cancer develops several ways to survive, including various modes of ‘biological camouflage’; alteration of the microenvironment to inhibit immune-cell function; and inducing expression of the receptors that normally halt the immune response. As our understanding of these mechanisms grows, our ability to overcome a tumor’s defenses and allow the immune system to destroy it increases. Our goal is to one day defeat all forms of cancer in this manner.

Immunotherapy Diagram

How is SDCPI accelerating progress in this area?

Immunotherapy stands at the frontier of cancer medicine and UC San Diego is uniquely poised to lead the way in mobilizing this therapy for patients.  We collaborate with partners across the Torrey Pines Mesa, including The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, and Scripps Research to make new advances possible.  Read more...

Why is immunotherapy so promising?

Traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, are toxic and often ineffective. The last four decades have seen only modest improvements in cancer therapies, while the incidence of cancer in the United States has risen to 1.7 million new diagnoses each year (source: National Cancer Institute).
Only immunotherapy can:

  • Augment, retrain, or retarget the immune system to fight cancer while preserving healthy tissue
  • Harness the body’s natural defenses
  • Treat cancers that traditional therapies cannot
  • Have a greater impact on reducing risk of recurrence or resistance
Immunotherapy is the best next step toward realizing a more effective, less damaging, and potentially curative standard of care.