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p h i l a m e d s o c  .org

Feature continued
Sitting (L to R): Jane Chuprin, Kathleen Haines, Sonia Guedan,
Brian Keith
First Row Standing (L to R): Joseph Fraietta, Christopher Roselle,
Decheng Song, Pratik Bhojnagarwala, Anna Wing, Carolyn Shaw,
Brittany Gardner, Yanping Luo, Fang Liu, Biliang Hu, Yi Hao,
Chiang, Tong Da, Shunichiro Kuramitsu
Second Row Standing (L to R): Avery Posey, Christopher Kloss,
Regina Young, Carl June, Denis Migliorni, Andrew Frisch, Michael
Klichinsky, Alex Coukos, Lexus Johnson, John Scholler, Marco
Ruella, Sangya Agarwal, Keisuke Watanabe
learned that when you are making hot air balloons, it is not a good
idea to wear out the family vacuum cleaner in the process.
By age 17, Dr. June knew that he was going to be a chemical
engineer. He was also bench pressing 300 pounds and planned to
continue his high school football career. Spoiler alert, he was "pretty
good" and was recently inducted into the high school football hall
of fame, "perhaps for other reasons."

In the 1980s, the Navy was building a bone marrow transplantation facility and his plan was to continue his research in bone
marrow transplantation and treat patients who received radiation
injuries from nuclear weapons. However, again time and circumstance changed. The Cold War ended. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Russia collapsed. The size of the Navy shrank from 1200 ships to
400 and plans for the bone marrow research facility fell through.
He couldn't get research money for leukemia from the Navy.

I asked him how he decided to go to the Naval Academy and
The Navy only funded combat casualty and infectious disease.
become a doctor. This is where he reminded me of how history
that's how I went to HIV." He founded the Immune Cell Biology
affects our lives. The year was 1971. We were at war with Vietnam.
and was head of the Department of Immunology at the
He had been accepted to Stanford. He had also received his draft
number - 50. He chose the Naval Academy. Looking back, this Naval Medical Research Institute from 1990 to 1995. Learning
about the AIDS virus would play a key role in the development of
decision was instrumental in shaping his future.
his gene cell therapy research. The HIV virus is adept at infecting
The Navy was just developing its premed program and he cells. Dr. June and his team would have to learn how to eliminate
found it fascinating. Instead of becoming an engineer, he went the toxicity of the HIV virus so that eventually they could utilize
to medical school at Baylor through the Navy scholarship. In his it as a tool (vector) for gene transfer.
last year of medical school, he studied malaria at a World Health
It was at the Naval Medical Research Institute that Dr. June
Organization laboratory in Geneva and was introduced to the
Dr. Bruce Levine. At the time, Dr. Levine was a postdoctoral
exciting world of medical research. Again, he had to remind me
research fellow in June's lab studying T-cells. He would soon become
of the history during these times.
a critical partner in the development of CAR T-cell therapy. They
The U.S. was in the midst of the Cold War. The Navy was learned how to grow and rapidly multiply T-cells outside of the
very interested in the effects of radiation as a result of the nuclear body, which would be a key step in CAR T-cell therapy.
casualties in Nagasaki, Japan. This lead to Dr. June's research in
When Dr. Craig Thompson, who he knew from their time
bone marrow transplantation and graft versus host disease. The
at the Hutch, was recruited to the Abramson Cancer Center
Navy sent him to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in
he recruited Dr. June to the University of Pennsylvania
Seattle where he received his postdoctoral training in transplantation
biology from 1983-1986. He trained with experts in the field of in 1999, where he remains. At this point in his career, Dr. June's
bone marrow transplantation, Dr. E. Donald Thomas, Dr. John research was already world-renowned. I wanted to know why he
Hansen and Dr. Paul Martin. He learned from the discoveries of choose the University of Pennsylvania and why he decided to
Dr. Hansen and Dr. Martin that a specific immune protein could stay. Dr. June credits the University of Pennsylvania with being
bind to a T-cell and change how it behaved. He learned about very "gutsy." Through the years, he has had many offers. "Harvard
graft versus host disease, and through this learned the importance and Yale, and none of the other Ivies, except Penn, encourage
of the immune system in the fight against cancer. He met another translational research" which allows you to move from your lab
brilliant scientist, Dr. Craig Thompson, at the Hutch. In 1999, research to human trials."In 1994, Penn decided to invest in
translational research. They made strategic recruitments and did it.
it would be Dr. Thompson who would recruit Dr. June to Penn.
Penn deserves a lot of credit because it was risky. It is the first Ivy

Philadelphia Medicine : Spring 2018


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