Ira Mellman is Vice President of Cancer Immunology at Genentech, after many years at Yale University School of Medicine faculty as Sterling Professor of Cell Biology & Immunobiology, a member of the Ludwig Institute, and scientific director of the Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Mellman is a graduate of Oberlin and Yale, and performed postdoctoral work with Ralph Steinman at Rockefeller. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and EMBO. Dr. Mellman’s laboratory is known for advances in cell biology (eg, the discovery of endosomes) and for applying these insights to understanding the immune response, such as demonstrating how dendritic cell maturation regulates the balance between immunity and tolerance. Other advances include elucidating the mechanism of the PD-L1/PD-1 pathway and the conceptualization of the Cancer Immunity Cycle. Ira’s group brought Genentech’s Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) to the clinic, and oversaw the discovery and development of iNeST-RNA, tiragolumab, cobimetinib, mosunetuzumab, and ipatasertib. Recent awards include Yale’s Wilbur Cross medal and the 2019 Leadership Award in Cancer Immunology from the AAPM.

Research Interests

Current research is devoted to understanding the mechanisms by which the immune system interacts with cancer. A broad approach is pursued, organized by an appreciation of the rate limiting steps on the cancer immunity cycle. Interest is in priming T cell responses by dendritic cells, T cell regulation, vaccines, and third generation cell therapy. Insights are derived from probing human genetics, patient response, and cell biology using reductionist and computational methodologies.

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Primary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology