Breast Cancer and Immunotherapy

October 8, 2021, 1:50 pm -
2:25 pm
Rapid research developments and new treatment combinations

Watch On Demand

Session Description

Breast cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers among women, with an estimated 2.1 million new cases of breast cancer globally each year. Immunotherapy for breast cancer is developing rapidly following the first FDA-approved checkpoint inhibitor for triple-negative breast cancer in March 2019. New treatment regimens combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery are showing promise in clinical trials. Dr. Leisha Emens of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center will answer your questions and discuss current immunotherapy research for breast cancer.


Leisha Emens, M.D., Ph.D.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Dr. Leisha Emens is a professor of medicine, director of translational immunotherapy for the Women’s Cancer Research Center, and co-leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Hillman Cancer Center. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine and completed postgraduate training at the National Cancer Institute, the University of Texas at Southwestern, and Johns Hopkins University. She joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 2001, where she rose to the rank of associate professor of oncology before joining the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Emens is a medical oncologist focused on breast cancer and is internationally recognized for her work in breast cancer immunotherapy. She developed a breast cancer vaccine and has recently played a key role in the development of the anti-PD-L1 agent atezolizumab, resulting in accelerated FDA approval for use in advanced triple-negative breast cancer. She currently serves as vice president of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer and section editor for the Journal for the Immunotherapy of Cancer. She is also a member of AACR’s Cancer Immunology Steering Committee. She has received much recognition for her work, including the President’s Award by the YWCA of Greater Baltimore, the Maryland Governor’s Citation, and the Sy Holzer Immunotherapy Research Award.


Barbara Bigelow

Breast Cancer Veteran

Nineteen years ago, Barbara Bigelow was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her two older sisters were diagnosed with the same type of cancer. After she finished a treatment regimen of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, her older sister passed away from metastatic breast cancer. Barbara then decided to have major preventive surgeries to further reduce her risk of recurrence. In 2015, she learned that her cancer had metastasized. After several failed treatments, Barbara enrolled in a cancer immunotherapy clinical trial in January 2016. Despite initially experiencing debilitating side effects, she has been cancer- and treatment-free for five years. Though Barbara continues to experience long-term side effects, she is grateful to be alive, passionate about advocacy work (including as a CRI ImmunoAdvocate), and enjoying life with her husband, daughters, and new grandson.

On-Demand Now Available

We are excited to announce that videos from our 2021 Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Virtual Immunotherapy Patient Summit are now available to view on demand.

The on-demand videos can be found on each session page from the agenda.