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NCI’s Steven Rosenberg Wins Service to America Medal

October 7, 2015, by NCI Staff

Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg

NCI's Dr. Steven Rosenberg has been awarded the 2015 Federal Employee of the Year by the Partnership for Public Service.

Credit: Partnership for Public Service / Aaron Clamage

The Partnership for Public Service has awarded Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., chief of the Surgery Branch in NCI's Center for Cancer Research, with its highest 2015 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, or Sammie, for his research to develop life-saving immune-based therapies for patients with advanced cancers.

Dr. Rosenberg, a pioneer in cancer immunotherapy who has been conducting research at NCI for more than 40 years, was named the Federal Employee of the Year, the top Sammie medal awarded by the Partnership for Public Service. He will receive the award at a ceremony this evening in Washington, D.C.

The Partnership for Public Service was founded by Samuel J. Heyman, who served as its chair from September 2001 until his death in November 2009. The annual Sammies awards, sometimes referred to as the Oscars of government service, honor Mr. Heyman and federal employees who have made significant contributions to the health and well-being of Americans. Seven other federal employees received 2015 Sammies.

Among his achievements, Dr. Rosenberg was the first to demonstrate that immune cells known as T cells and the growth factor interleukin-2 could be used to effectively treat tumors in some patients with advanced cancer whose disease no longer responds to standard treatments.

He also spurred the development of a treatment approach known as adoptive cell transfer (ACT), a treatment that uses the body’s own T cells to recognize and attack cancer cells. Dr. Rosenberg and his colleagues at NCI also pioneered an approach to ACT that involves genetically modifying T cells to better target a patient’s cancer.

Although still an investigational therapy, ACT has been successfully used in clinical trials to treat patients with advanced melanoma, sarcomas, lymphomas, and gynecologic cancer. Some patients have experienced complete responses lasting for several years or, in some cases, more than a decade.

Video highlights from the 2015 Sammies ceremony will be available online soon.

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