Internationally acclaimed lymphoma expert Larry Kwak will join City of Hope

February 25, 2015
Physician/scientist will head Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center at new hematology institute
DUARTE, Calif. — Acclaimed translational research scientist and physician Larry W. Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., will join City of Hope in a key leadership role within the institution’s new Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute. As director of the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center, Kwak will shape the next generation of research and treatments for all types of lymphoma.

Kwak joins City of Hope from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he served as chairman of the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma and as co-director of the Center for Cancer Immunology Research. At City of Hope, he will head one of six cornerstone centers in the institution’s recently launched hematologic malignancies institute, setting scientific priorities and guiding the development of new approaches to treating lymphoma and related diseases, especially those involving immune-based treatments.

Kwak will also serve in the dual leadership role of inaugural associate director for developmental therapeutics and translational research for City of Hope’s National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and hold the title of the Dr. Michael Friedman Professor for Translational Medicine.

“Dr. Kwak’s remarkable expertise in translational research and hematologic malignancies make him a uniquely perfect fit for City of Hope,” said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope. “His ability to guide research breakthroughs from the lab to the clinic will help us break new ground in the treatment of a variety of cancers, including lymphoma and other blood and bone marrow diseases, and we’re extremely pleased to have him on board.”

A committed physician, scientist and mentor, Kwak is known for his ability to assemble and lead research teams, integrating basic discoveries in academic laboratories with translational clinical development. He has brought to fruition a number of first-in-human clinical trials of novel therapeutics, such as next-generation cancer immune therapies. In 2010, Kwak was named to TIME magazine’s TIME100 as one of the world’s 100 most influential people for his 20-year commitment to the science of cancer immunotherapy. He will play a key role in the future direction of City of Hope’s translational medicine and teamwork science initiatives.

Kwak is also an expert in the clinical management of patients with low-grade lymphomas and joins City of Hope as the institution expands its commitment to patients with blood and bone marrow cancers by launching an institute focused specifically on their need for improved therapies and potential cures.

“As a world leader in both translational research and the development of immune-based therapies, City of Hope is poised to further revolutionize the treatment of leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other malignancies,” Kwak said. “I’m extremely pleased to join the esteemed physicians and researchers at City of Hope and working with them to develop new treatments for some of the most complex diseases of our day.”
As chair of the lymphoma and myeloma department at M.D. Anderson, Kwak was successful in garnering extensive support for his research, including large team science grants, such as two Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants in lymphoma and multiple myeloma from the National Cancer Institute and a Specialized Center of Research Program project grant awarded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He also led the expansion of the department’s laboratory research space and launched biospecimen banks to support translational research.

Prior to his role at M.D. Anderson, Kwak served as Head of the Vaccine Biology Section, Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, at the NCI for 12 years, and his laboratory was credited with the bench-to-clinic development of a therapeutic cancer vaccine for B-cell malignancies.

Kwak received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School and earned his Ph.D. in tumor cell biology there in 1984. He also completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology at Stanford University Medical Center in California.

He will join City of Hope in April.

Stephen J. Forman, M.D., head of the institution’s new Hematologic Institute, praised Kwak for his ability to move research from the lab to the clinic, one of the hallmarks of research and medicine at City of Hope. “Dr. Kwak not only understands the mission of City of Hope, he understands what it takes to develop the new treatments on which our patients are waiting,” he said. “We look forward to working with him to develop better options for patients today – and patients tomorrow.”

The Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center at City of Hope is supported by Internet-publishing entrepreneurs Emmet and Toni Stephenson and their daughter Tessa Stephenson Brand.

Tami Dennis
[email protected]
About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with clinics in Southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.