Press Release Details

Gritstone Oncology Expands Scientific Advisory Board with Appointment of Immuno-Oncology Experts James L. Gulley and Alessandro Sette

June 1, 2017

EMERYVILLE, Calif., June 1, 2017 — Gritstone Oncology, a next-generation personalized cancer immunotherapy company, today announced the expansion of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) with the appointment of James L. Gulley, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Genitourinary Malignancies Branch at the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Alessandro Sette, Dr.Biol.Sci., center head of the Division of Translational Immunology and Vaccine Discovery at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Both are renowned experts in the field of immuno-oncology and will provide strategic guidance and insight to Gritstone as it advances its drug development technology platform to create personalized neoantigen therapies that harness the patient’s own immune system to attack solid tumors.

“Successful neoantigen-targeted therapy demands excellence in two scientific dimensions, and we are thrilled to have global leaders in both of those domains join our team of scientific advisors,” said Andrew Allen, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Gritstone Oncology. “First, we must predict which of a cancer patient’s many DNA mutations create truly neoantigenic proteins, and Alessandro has blazed the trail in understanding immune system-protein interactions. His fundamental insights have empowered companies like ours to consider tackling this problem and his counsel has already proven invaluable. Second, we must deliver tumor-specific neoantigens to patients in a highly immunogenic format. James has studied human immune responses to cancer immunotherapies for many years, deriving key observations into the link between immune response and clinical outcomes. The collective expertise of Alessandro and James will be essential as we advance our first personalized neoantigen immunotherapy into human trials and continue to assess solid tumors for their capacity to generate tumor-specific neoantigens.”

“Tumor neoantigens are an exciting actionable discovery, and Gritstone Oncology has the right team of seasoned individuals in place to advance this scientific understanding to the next level in order to improve response rates and survival in cancer patients. The team has already made exceptional progress in the 20 months since the company was founded,” said Dr. Sette. “With my long-term interest in how T cells recognize antigens, I am excited to join Gritstone’s Scientific Advisory Board to help advance its novel therapeutic concept into clinical trials next year.” 

About Dr. Gulley

Dr. Gulley also serves as senior investigator and head of the Immunotherapy Section and director of the Medical Oncology Service in the Office of the Clinical Director at the CCR. He is an internationally recognized expert in cancer immunotherapy, therapeutic cancer vaccines, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and the combination of immunotherapy with other therapies. Since 1998, he has conducted investigator-initiated clinical trials at the NCI evaluating cancer vaccines and other immunostimulatory agents, as well as the combination of immunotherapy with other treatment strategies. He played a central role in the clinical development of a prostate cancer vaccine that was created at the NCI, and currently serves as principal investigator of an international, randomized Phase 3 clinical trial of that vaccine. He is also the coordinating principal investigator for an international trial of an anti-PDL1 antibody.

About Dr. Sette

Dr. Sette also serves as director of the Center for Infectious Disease and Head of the Initiative for Emerging Diseases and Biodefense at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. He has devoted more than 30 years of study to understanding basic mechanisms of antigen recognition and immune responses, measuring and predicting immune activity, and developing disease intervention strategies against cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases and allergies. His research is focused on improving the understanding of how the body successfully battles infection, and conversely, how pathogens escape the immune system, causing the individual to succumb to disease. He has developed techniques to understand the T-cell response to common allergens, which has resulted in the development of bioinformatic tools used to map the human T-cell response to a large panel of common allergens. Dr. Sette earned a Doctor in Biological Sciences  at the University of Rome and completed post-doctoral work at the Laboratory of Pathology, Cassaccia, in Rome, and at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine in Denver. He has authored more than 650 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and has nearly 30 issued patents.

Gritstone’s SAB Comprised of Pioneers in Immuno-Oncology and Other Relevant Disciplines 
In addition to Drs. Gulley and Sette, other members of Gritstone Oncology’s distinguished Scientific Advisory Board include:

  • Timothy A. Chan, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in cancer immuno-genomics, is vice chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and the Frederick Adler Chair at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). He also is a member of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at MSKCC and director of the Division of Translational Oncology in the Department of Radiation Oncology.
  • Mark Cobbold, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in HLA-peptide mass spectrometry, is associate professor of medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center. He also is a member of the MGH Center for Cancer Immunology.
  • Graham Lord, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in T-cell biology, is professor of medicine at King’s College London. He also is head of the Department of Experimental Immunobiology and director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Center at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College London.
  • Naiyer A. Rizvi, M.D., an expert in clinical immuno-oncology, is the Price Chair of Clinical Translational Medicine and director of thoracic oncology and immuno-therapeutics at Columbia University Medical Center.
  • Jean-Charles Soria, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in clinical cancer research, is a professor of medicine and medical oncology at South-Paris University. He also is a cancer specialist at Institut Gustave Roussy (IGR) in Paris, chair of the Drug Development Department at IGR, and a member of the lung cancer unit with a focus on targeted therapies.

About Gritstone Oncology
Gritstone Oncology is a privately-held, next-generation personalized cancer immunotherapy company. Gritstone brings together distinguished scientific founders, an experienced and diverse management team, a seasoned and successful board of directors, and deep financial backing to tackle fundamental challenges at the intersection of cancer genomics, immunology and immunotherapy design. The company’s initial goal is to identify and deploy therapeutic neoantigens from individual patients’ tumor to develop novel treatments for lung cancer. Gritstone Oncology is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area with certain key functions located in Cambridge, Mass. The company launched in October 2015 with a Series A financing of $102 million from leading blue-chip biotechnology investors, including Versant Ventures, The Column Group and Clarus Ventures. More information can be found at

Media Contact:
Dan Budwick 
1AB Media