Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announced the creation of The Marie-Josée Kravis Center for Cancer Immunobiology (CCI), a hub for immunotherapy research that will elevate, centralize, and prioritize the full spectrum of immuno-oncology research across the institution. The CCI, made possible by a generous $40 million gift from Henry R. Kravis to honor the visionary leadership of his wife, Marie-Josée Kravis, Vice Chair of the MSK Board of Trustees and a renowned champion of science, will establish a strategic research infrastructure that will seamlessly unite MSK scientists and physicians to further accelerate immunotherapy treatments for people with cancer.
To lead the CCI, MSK will appoint a prominent expert who bridges the worlds of immuno-oncology clinical trials and laboratory science as the inaugural Marie-Josée Kravis Chair in Immuno-Oncology. The Center will encompass basic research, translational research, and the creation of novel immunodiagnostic assays at MSK with a focus on immuno-oncology discovery, cell engineering, and cancer vaccines. By uniting MSK’s preclinical and translational investigators across the immunology research community, the CCI will establish a new model for research initiatives that span discovery research and patient care.
“We are deeply grateful to Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis for their generosity,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS, President and CEO of MSK. “Immunotherapy was born at MSK more than a century ago, and since then our researchers have been at the epicenter of new discoveries in the field that have paved the way for groundbreaking treatment options for people with cancer. The Marie-Josée Kravis Center for Cancer Immunobiology will provide our physicians and scientists with the community, support, and resources they need for productive multidisciplinary collaboration to continue their important work as we advance our mission of ending cancer for life.”
Cancer immunotherapy — including checkpoint inhibitors, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, and cancer vaccines — is one of the most transformational breakthroughs in modern medicine. Immunotherapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration exist for several cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and lymphoma, with many more in development. However, despite extraordinary progress, current immunotherapies are not effective for everyone and, even when successful, the disease can grow resistant over time. Expanding the benefits of immunotherapies to more patients and understanding why cancers become resistant to these treatments is one of MSK’s top research priorities and a central need for the cancer field.
“The extraordinary generosity and far-reaching vision of Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis has significantly advanced MSK’s research efforts throughout the years and will have a profound and lasting impact on the world of cancer science,” said Joan Massagué, PhD, MSK’s Chief Scientific Officer, Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI), and Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair. “The Marie-Josée Kravis Center for Cancer Immunobiology will enable collaborative research between MSK’s immuno-oncology and immunology programs and support barrier-breaking efforts to move projects forward, serving as a model for how cancer research can and should be optimally implemented.”
“The new Marie-Josée Kravis Center for Cancer Immunobiology will not only support research to identify new therapeutic targets, it will also enable us to bring those novel therapies directly to our patients who need them most,” said Lisa DeAngelis, MD, MSK’s Chief Physician Executive and Scott M. and Lisa G. Stuart Chair. “We are so grateful for the visionary leadership of Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis and their continued support of our highest priority research programs.”
The Marie-Josée Kravis Center for Cancer Immunobiology builds on the Kravis family’s legacy of generosity and extensive vision for research. This gift also establishes the Kravises as the most generous donors in the history of MSK. Throughout the past two decades, their deep commitment to farsighted philanthropy has allowed the institution to achieve the most significant advances in cancer research, and their generosity will have a profound and lasting impact on the world of cancer science. In 2014, their support allowed MSK to establish The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology, now one of the most advanced genome-sequencing programs for cancer worldwide. In 2022, a landmark gift from The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation enabled the launch of The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Cancer Ecosystems Project to uncover the many ways that cancer cells interact with their environment. The CCI will leverage this important work as part of its focus on cell therapy and tumor vaccine development — two of the most promising clinical applications for immunotherapy.
“We are delighted to continue our support of science and research at MSK through The Marie-Josée Kravis Center for Cancer Immunobiology,” said Marie-Josée Kravis. “Immunotherapy is one of the most promising treatment options for cancer, and MSK researchers have unparalleled expertise in the field. Our hope is to build on their extraordinary work to create greater understanding of cancer’s relationship to the body and yield transformative treatments for people around the world.”