Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.1 With more than 100 types and a biology that’s constantly changing, it’s also one of the most complex diseases known to mankind.2, 3 In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide.4 By 2030, the global burden is expected to grow to 21.7 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths as a result of growth and aging of the population.5
Meet Some of Pfizer’s Oncology Researchers
Robert Abraham, PhD
Senior Vice President, Group Head
of Oncology Research and Development
Robert (Bob) is Senior Vice President and Group Head, Oncology Research & Development Group. This group is at the forefront of breaking new ground to develop impactful, life-saving cancer therapies and spearheading the company’s Precision Medicine approach to Research and Development. Dr. Abraham also serves as the Director of the Pfizer Postdoctoral program, helping develop talented early career scientists into outstanding industry and academic researchers.
Dr. Abraham received his PhD in pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh, and his BS in Biology from Bucknell University. He is the author of more than 200 scientific publications, and has served on and chaired grant review panels at the National Institutes of Health. He is a reviewer for many leading scientific journals, including Nature, Science, and Cell.
Prior to this new role, Dr. Abraham served as Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Oncology Research Unit. Before joining Pfizer, Dr. Abraham was the Vice President of Oncology Research at Wyeth and Co-Chair of the Wyeth Oncology Therapeutic Area Strategic Committee.
While at Wyeth, he also served as a member of the Discovery Review Board and the Discovery Executive Committee, and was the Director of the Wyeth Discovery Postdoctoral Training Program.
Before joining Wyeth, Dr. Abraham was a professor at the Sanford-Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California. He served as the Director of the Sanford-Burnham Institute for Medical Research Cancer Research Center and successfully guided the center to a renewal of its designation as one of nine National Cancer Institute-sponsored basic science centers in the United States.
Dr. Abraham also founded and directed the program in Signal Transduction Research in the Sanford-Burnham Institute for Medical Research Cancer Center, and retains an appointment as an Adjunct Professor at the Sanford-Burnham Institute for Medical Research, together with an Adjunct Professor Appointment in Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego. Previously, Dr. Abraham was a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University Medical Center, and was the first recipient of the Glaxo-Wellcome Chair of Molecular Cancer Biology at Duke. Before his arrival at Duke University, Dr. Abraham began his independent research career at the Mayo Clinic, where he rose from his initial position as a postdoctoral fellow to the rank of Professor in the Departments of Immunology and Pharmacology.
Dr. Abraham has received several awards for both his teaching and research contributions, including the Legacy Laureate Award, as an outstanding alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh.
Kim T. Arndt, PhD
Vice President, Oncology Target Discovery
Dr. Arndt is Vice President in the Oncology Research and Development Group, leading the Oncology Target Discovery (OTD) group.
Dr. Arndt received his PhD in Biological Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and his BS from Albright College, PA. He did his postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania and at MIT/Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA. After his postdoctoral training, Dr. Arndt was a Senior Staff Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where his research team worked on growth signaling and cell cycle control. After 9 years at CSHL, Dr Arndt moved to Wyeth Research, which was subsequently acquired by Pfizer. While employed by Wyeth, Dr. Arndt’s group discovered the SRC/ABL kinase inhibitor Bosutinib which is currently approved for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML).
Dr Arndt is an author of more than 50 scientific publications.
DARRIN BEAUPRE, M.D., PH.D.
Senior Vice President, Head of Early Oncology Development and Clinical Research
Darrin Beaupre is Senior Vice President, Head of Early Oncology Development and Clinical Research. Dr. Beaupre brings to Pfizer an ideal combination of translational and clinical expertise, gained in both the academic and industrial settings.
Dr. Beaupre earned his M.D. from the University of Texas at Houston, his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and his B.S. and M.S. in Biological Sciences from Lowell University. His clinical practice included a residency and fellowship at the University of Miami and an Assistant Professorship at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.
Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Beaupre led multiple teams at Pharmacyclics, most recently as the Head of Early Development and Immunotherapy. He is the recipient of the Hollis Brownstein Research Grant and was recognized as a “Scientist to Watch” by the Leukemia Research Foundation, and received multiple Clinical Scholars in Oncology Awards from the National Cancer Institute.
Robert Rickert, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer - Cancer Immunology Discovery
Dr. Rickert is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer - Cancer Immunology Discovery (CID) in South San Francisco, focusing on the generation of large molecule immunotherapeutics that promote anti-tumor activity or counter immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. To achieve this goal, protein engineers, immunologists and cancer biologists at CID combine talents to advance projects from concept to clinical compounds.
Dr. Rickert earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel. Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Rickert spent 20 years in academia, initially as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Biological Science at the University of California, San Diego, and then at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP). At SBP, he was Professor and Director of the Tumor Microenvironment and Cancer Immunology Program in the NCI-designated Cancer Center. He also served as the Director of Academic Affairs. Dr. Rickert is devoted to the training of junior scientists as evidenced by his role as an Associate Dean of the Graduate School at SBP, and the Director of a newly awarded NIH postdoctoral training grant entitled Frontiers of Immunology that focused on bridging training opportunities in academia and industry.
Dr. Rickert is the author of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and has served extensively on editorial boards and federal grant review panels.
Puja Sapra, PhD
Vice President, Nanomedicines and Bioconjugates
Puja Sapra is Vice President at the Oncology Research and Development Group. Dr. Sapra leads the research group responsible for preclinical development of targeted therapeutics including nanomedicines, bioconjugates and antibody-drug conjugate. Her group has built novel sophisticated technologies to develop antibody-drug conjugate molecules and has advanced several of these candidate molecules to clinical trials.
Dr. Sapra received her PhD in Pharmacology from University of Alberta, Canada, her BS from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and her MS in Pharmacology from UK. She is an author of >50 scientific publications, book chapters and co-inventor on several issued patents.
Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Sapra led Pharmacology groups at Enzon Pharmaceuticals and Immunomedics Inc. and developed oncology-based drugs that are undergoing clinical evaluation. She has broad expertise in targeting strategies including immunotherapeutics, liposomal drug delivery system, nanoparticles, antisense oligonucleotide delivery and pegylation technologies.
Michael A. White, Ph.D.
Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for Tumor Cell Biology
Michael A. White, Ph.D. is Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for Tumor Cell Biology, in the Oncology Research & Development Group at Pfizer, which is focused on the discovery and development of lead-in-class small molecule cancer therapies. His group pursues chemically addressable targets that intercept oncogenic signaling networks; modulate tumor/host interactions; and promote productive anti-tumor immune responses.
Before joining Pfizer, Dr. White was Professor of Cell Biology; Associate Director of Basic Science for the Harold Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center; and inaugural Director of the Cancer Intervention and Prevention Discovery training program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. In 2008 Dr. White was appointed the Hortense and Morton Sanger Professorship in Oncology. In 2009 he was appointed the Sherry Wigley Crow Cancer Research Endowed Chair in Honor of R Kirby, M.D., and in 2011, the Grant A. Dove Distinguished Chair for Research in Oncology.
Dr. White's research has focused on oncogenic RAS effector networks; the molecular architecture of mitogenic signaling pathways; functional annotation of cancer genomes; and genomics-guided cancer intervention target discovery. He has authored more than 150 publications with over 12,000 citations. In 2015 he was an inaugural recipient of the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator award
Selected Publications from the Oncology Research Group
- Axitinib effectively inhibits BCR-ABL1(T315I) with a distinct binding conformation Nature Pemskova T, Johnson E, Kontro M, Repasky GA, Chen J, Wells P, Cronin CN, McTigue M, Kallioniemi O, Porkka K, Murray BW, Wennerberg K. March 5 2015
- Combination of 4-1BB agonist and PD-1 antagonist promotes antitumor effector/memory CD8 T cells in a poorly immunogenic tumor model Cancer Immunology Research Chen S, Lee LF, Fisher TS, Jessen B, Elliott M, Evering W, Logronio K, Tu GH, Tsaparikos K, Li X, Wang H, Ying C, Xiong M, VanArsdale T, Lin JC. February 3 2015
- Molecular Pathways: Targeting the Cyclin D – CDK4/6 Axis for Cancer Treatment Clinical Cancer Research VanArsdale T, Boshoff C, Arndt K, Abraham RT. May 2015
- OASIS: web-based platform for exploring cancer multi-omics data Nature Methods Fernandez-Banet J, Esposito A, Coffin S, Boerner Horvath I, Esterlla H, Schefzick S, Deng S, Wang K, Ching KA, Ding Y, Roberts P, Rejto PA, Kan Z. 2016
- PF-06463922, an ALK/ROS1 Inhibitor, Overcomes Resistance to First and Second Generation ALK Inhibitors in Preclinical Models Cancer Cell Zou HY, Friboulet L, Kodack DP, Engstrom LD, Li Q, West M, Tang RW, Wang H, Tsaparikos K, Wang J, Timofeevski S, Katayama R, Dinh DM, Lam H, Lam JL, Yamazaki S, Hu W, Patel B, Bezwada D, Frias RL, Lifshits E, Mahmood S, Gainor JF, Affolter T, Lappin PB, Gukasyan H, Lee N, Deng S, Jain RK, Johnson TW, Shaw AT, Fantin VR, Smeal T. July 13 2015
- Reciprocal regulation of amino acid import and epigenetic state through Lat1 and EZH2 EMBO Journal Dann SG, Ryskin M, Barsotti AM, Golas J, Shi C, Miranda M, Hosselet C, Lemon L, Lucas J, Karnoub M, Wang F, Myers JS, Garza SJ, Follettie MT, Geles KG, Klippel A, Rollins RA, Fantin VR. July 2 2015
- Site-specific conjugation improves therapeutic index of antibody drug conjugates Nature Biotechnology Strop P, Delaria K, Foletti D, Witt JM, Hasa-Moreno A, Poulsen K, Casas MG, Dorywalska M, Farias S, Pios A, Lui V, Dushin R, Zhou D, Navaratnam T, Tran TT, Sutton J, Lindquist KC, Han B, Liu SH, Shelton DL, Pons J, Rajpal A. July 8 2015
- Toward a Molecular Definition of Leucine-Dependent mTORC1 Activation Cell Metabolism Abraham RT. March 8 2016
- XPO1-dependent nuclear export is a druggable vulnerability in KRAS-mutant lung cancer Nature Kim J, McMillan E, Kim HS, Venkateswaran N, Makkar G, Rodriguez-Canales J, Mendiratta S, Wei S, Landesman J, Senapedis W, Baloglu E, Chi-Wan B, Chow C, Frink, R, Boning Gao B, Roth M, Minna D, Daelemans D, Wistuba I, Posner B, Scaglioni P, White MA. October 6 2016