W J Urba

Providence Portland Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, United States

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Publications (185)1397.36 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: High-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been FDA-approved for over 20 years, but it is offered only at a small number of centers with expertise in its administration. We analyzed the outcomes of patients receiving high-dose IL-2 in relation to the severity of toxicity to ascertain if response or survival were adversely affected.
    Journal for immunotherapy of cancer. 05/2014; 2:13.
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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy regulates innate and adaptive immune responses to pathogens and tumors. We have reported that autophagosomes derived from tumor cells after proteasome inhibition, DRibbles (Defective ribosomal products in blebs), were excellent sources of antigens for efficient cross priming of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, which mediated regression of established tumors in mice. But the activity of DRibbles in human has not been reported. DRibbles or cell lysates derived from HEK293T or UbiLT3 cell lines expressing cytomegalovirus (CMV) pp65 protein or transfected with a plasmid encoding dominant HLA-A2 restricted CMV, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and Influenza (Flu) epitopes (CEF) were loaded onto human monocytes or PBMCs and the response of human CMV pp65 or CEF antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ memory T cells was detected by intracellular staining. The effect of cytokines (GM-CSF, IL-4, IL-12, TNF-alpha, IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma) TLR agonists (Lipopolysaccharide, Polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C), M52-CpG, R848, TLR2 ligand) and CD40 ligand on the cross-presentation of antigens contained in DRibbles or cell lysates was explored . In this study we showed that purified monocytes, or human PBMCs, loaded with DRibbles isolated from cells expressing CMV or CEF epitopes, could activate CMV- or CEF-specific memory T cells. DRibbles were significantly more efficient at stimulating CD8+ memory T cells compared to cell lysates expressing the same antigenic epitopes. We optimized the conditions for T-cell activation and IFN-gamma production following direct loading of DRibbles onto PBMCs. We found that the addition of Poly(I:C), CD40 ligand, and GM-CSF to the PBMCs together with DRibbles significantly increased the level of CD8+ T cell responses. DRibbles containing specific viral antigens are an efficient ex vivo activator of human antigen-specific memory T cells specific for those antigens. This function could be enhanced by combining with Poly(I:C), CD40 ligand, and GM-CSF. This study provides proof-of-concept for applying this strategy to activate memory T cells against other antigens, including tumor-specific T cells ex vivo for immunological monitoring and adoptive immunotherapy, and in vivo as vaccines for patients with cancer.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 04/2014; 12(1):100. · 3.99 Impact Factor
  • Walter J Urba
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    ABSTRACT: The cellular and molecular principles that furnish the foundation for ACT of melanoma and their implications for further clinical research are reviewed. The parallel advances in basic immunology, preclinical animal studies, and clinical trials over the last two decades have been integrated successfully with improvements in technology to produce an effective ACT strategy for patients with melanoma. From the initial observation that tumors could be treated effectively by the transfer of immune cells to current strategies using preconditioning with myeloablative therapy before adoptive transfer of native or genetically altered T cells, the role of preclinical animal models is discussed. The importance of the pmel transgenic mouse model in the determination of the mechanisms of lymphodepletion, the ongoing work to identify the optimal T cells for adoptive immunotherapy, and the early impact of the emerging discipline of synthetic biology are highlighted. The clinical consequences of the research described herein are reviewed in the companion manuscript.
    Journal of leukocyte biology 03/2014; · 4.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OX40 is a potent co-stimulatory receptor that can potentiate T cell receptor signaling on the surface of T lymphocytes, leading to their activation by a specifically recognized antigen. In particular, OX40 engagement by ligands present on dendritic cells dramatically increases the proliferation, effector function and survival of T cells. Preclinical studies have shown that OX40 agonists increase anti-tumor immunity and improve tumor-free survival. In this study, we performed a Phase I clinical trial using a mouse monoclonal antibody (mAb) that agonizes human OX40 signaling in patients with advanced cancer. Patients treated with one course of the anti-OX40 mAb showed an acceptable toxicity profile and regression of at least one metastatic lesion in 12/30 patients. Mechanistically, this treatment increased T and B cell responses to reporter antigen immunizations, led to preferential upregulation of OX40 on CD4+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes andincreased the anti-tumor reactivity of T and B cells in patients with melanoma. Our findings clinically validate OX40 as a potent immune-stimulating target for treatment in cancer patients, providing a generalizable tool to favorably influence the antitumor properties of circulating T cells, B cells and intratumoral regulatory T cells.
    Cancer Research 10/2013; · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy is associated with durable clinical benefit in patients with melanoma. The goal of this article is to provide evidence-based consensus recommendations for the use of immunotherapy in the clinical management of patients with high-risk and advanced-stage melanoma in the USA. To achieve this goal, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer sponsored a panel of melanoma experts-including physicians, nurses, and patient advocates-to develop a consensus for the clinical application of tumour immunotherapy for patients with melanoma. The Institute of Medicine clinical practice guidelines were used as a basis for this consensus development. A systematic literature search was performed for high-impact studies in English between 1992 and 2012 and was supplemented as appropriate by the panel. This consensus report focuses on issues related to patient selection, toxicity management, clinical end points and sequencing or combination of therapy. The literature review and consensus panel voting and discussion were used to generate recommendations for the use of immunotherapy in patients with melanoma, and to assess and rate the strength of the supporting evidence. From the peer-reviewed literature the consensus panel identified a role for interferon-α2b, pegylated-interferon-α2b, interleukin-2 (IL-2) and ipilimumab in the clinical management of melanoma. Expert recommendations for how to incorporate these agents into the therapeutic approach to melanoma are provided in this consensus statement. Tumour immunotherapy is a useful therapeutic strategy in the management of patients with melanoma and evidence-based consensus recommendations for clinical integration are provided and will be updated as warranted.
    Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology 08/2013; · 15.03 Impact Factor
  • Walter J Urba
    The Oncologist 06/2013; 18(6):658-60. · 4.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The immunotherapeutic agent ipilimumab has helped address a significant unmet need in the treatment of advanced melanoma. Ipilimumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that targets cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), thereby augmenting antitumor immune responses. After decades in which a number of clinical trials were conducted, ipilimumab was the first therapy to improve overall survival in a randomized, controlled phase III trial of patients with advanced melanoma. These results led to the regulatory approval of ipilimumab at 3 mg/kg for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma. More than 17,000 patients worldwide have received ipilimumab, either as a commercial drug at 3 mg/kg or in clinical trials and expanded access programs at different doses. Consistent with its proposed mechanism of action, the most common toxicities associated with ipilimumab therapy are inflammatory in nature. These immune-related adverse events were mostly reversible when effective treatment guidelines were followed. Importantly, long-term follow-up of patients who received ipilimumab in a phase III trial showed that 24% survived at least two years, and in phase II studies, a proportion of patients survived at least five years. Evaluation of ipilimumab is ongoing in the adjuvant setting for melanoma, and for advanced disease in nonsmall cell lung, small cell lung, prostate, ovarian, and gastric cancers.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 06/2013; 1291(1). · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent investigations of the tumor microenvironment have shown that many tumors are infiltrated by inflammatory and lymphocytic cells. Increasing evidence suggests that the number, type and location of these tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in primary tumors has prognostic value, and this has led to the development of an 'immunoscore' As well as providing useful prognostic information, the immunoscore concept also has the potential to help predict response to treatment, thereby improving decision- making with regard to choice of therapy. This predictive aspect of the tumor microenvironment forms the basis for the concept of immunoprofiling, which can be described as 'using an individual's immune system signature (or profile) to predict that patient's response to therapy. The immunoprofile of an individual can be genetically determined or tumor-induced (and therefore dynamic). Ipilimumab is the first in a series of immunomodulating antibodies and has been shown to be associated with improved overall survival in patients with advanced melanoma. Other immunotherapies in development include anti-programmed death 1 protein (nivolumab), anti-PD-ligand 1, anti-CD137 (urelumab), and anti-OX40. Biomarkers that can be used as predictive factors for these treatments have not yet been clinically validated. However, there is already evidence that the tumor microenvironment can have a predictive role, with clinical activity of ipilimumab related to high baseline expression of the immune-related genes FoxP3 and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and an increase in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. These biomarkers could represent the first potential proposal for an immunoprofiling panel in patients for whom anti-CTLA-4 therapy is being considered, although prospective data are required. In conclusion, the evaluation of systemic and local immunological biomarkers could offer useful prognostic information and facilitate clinical decision making. The challenge will be to identify the individual immunoprofile of each patient and the consequent choice of optimal therapy or combination of therapies to be used.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 03/2013; 11(1):54. · 3.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) leads to angiogenesis, tumor progression, and inhibition of immune function. We conducted the first phase II study to estimate the efficacy and safety of bevacizumab with high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy in patients with metastatic RCC. Eligible patients had predominantly clear cell metastatic RCC, measurable disease, a Karnofsky Performance Status of ≥80%, and adequate end-organ function. IL-2 (600,000 IU/kg) was infused intravenously every 8 hours (maximum 28 doses) during two 5-day cycles on days 1 and 15 of each 84-day course. Bevacizumab (10 mg/kg) was infused intravenously every 2 weeks beginning 2 weeks before initiating IL-2. Fifty of 51 eligible patients from 8 centers were enrolled. Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 11.2 months (90% confidence interval, 5.7-17.7), and 2-year PFS was 18% (90% confidence interval, 8%-27%). Responses included 4 complete (8%) and 11 partial (22%) responses. Toxicities did not exceed those expected from each agent alone. Combining IL-2 plus bevacizumab is feasible, with a response rate and PFS at least as high as reported previously for the single agents. The regimen did not appear to enhance the rate of durable major responses over that of IL-2 alone.
    Journal of immunotherapy (Hagerstown, Md.: 1997) 01/2013; 36(9):490-5. · 3.20 Impact Factor
  • Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 01/2013; 1(Suppl 1):P262.
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    ABSTRACT: Anticancer immunotherapy holds great promises, as long-term responses to interleukin-2 have been observed in metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma patients. However, improving the relative low rates of such responses has constituted a great challenge. In our experience, high-dose radiation combined with interleukin-2 provided encouraging results that are worth exploring further.
    OncoImmunology 12/2012; 1(9):1645-1647. · 6.28 Impact Factor
  • Walter J Urba, Brendan D Curti
    Clinical Investigation. 10/2012; 2(10):957-959.
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    ABSTRACT: It is generally believed that most tumor antigens are passively released from either health or dying tumor cells as intact soluble antigens, peptide fragments complexed with heat shock proteins (HSPs), or packaged in secretary vesicles in the form of microparticles or exosomes. The passive release of tumor antigens is generally non-inflammatory and non-immunogenic; however, results from others and our laboratories suggest that autophagy is critically involved in immunogenic cell death.
    OncoImmunology 09/2012; 1(6):976-978. · 6.28 Impact Factor
  • Brendan D Curti, Walter J Urba
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    ABSTRACT: Treatments for advanced melanoma have evolved rapidly based on improved understanding of the pathways that determine T-cell responses and knowledge of growth-related mutations, which can be targeted with new classes of pharmacologic agents. The FDA approved ipilimumab and vemurafenib for advanced melanoma in 2011. Our practice is to evaluate all tumors from patients with metastatic disease for the presence of a BRAF mutation (Fig. 1). More than 20 years of follow-up show that responders to IL-2 can be cured of their melanoma. Therefore, we recommend high-dose IL-2 as first line therapy for patients with excellent functional status and normal cardiopulmonary reserve regardless of their BRAF mutation status. We use ipilimumab, which can induce durable tumor regressions and improved survival, as initial therapy for patients who refuse or are not candidates for IL-2, also regardless of their BRAF mutation status. Ipilimumab can be used as salvage therapy for patients with advanced disease after IL-2 or vemurafenib. Targeted therapies such as vemurafenib or imatinib can be offered to patients whose melanomas express the BRAF V600E or C-Kit mutations. Vemurafenib is particularly useful for patients whose disease is progressing rapidly, as clinical improvement can be obtained within days of starting therapy and response rates may be as high as 70 %. The major reason we do not recommend vemurafenib as first line treatment in all patients whose tumors have BRAF mutations is the short median duration of response of approximately 7 months. Enrollment in a clinical trial should always be considered for patients with metastatic melanoma. The clinical trial focus has changed from finding any agent with activity in melanoma, to overcoming mechanisms of resistance and enhancing the immunomodulatory activity of these new agents that confer therapeutic benefit. Selected patients can benefit from surgical resection or radiation to manage oligometastatic disease.
    Current Treatment Options in Oncology 06/2012; 13(3):327-39. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Preclinical models suggest that focal high-dose radiation can make tumors more immunogenic. We performed a pilot study of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) followed by high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) to assess safety and tumor response rate and perform exploratory immune monitoring studies. Patients with metastatic melanoma or renal cell carcinoma (RCC) who had received no previous medical therapy for metastatic disease were eligible. Patients received one, two, or three doses of SBRT (20 Gy per fraction) with the last dose administered 3 days before starting IL-2. IL-2 (600,000 IU per kilogram by means of intravenous bolus infusion) was given every 8 hours for a maximum of 14 doses with a second cycle after a 2-week rest. Patients with regressing disease received up to six IL-2 cycles. Twelve patients were included in the intent-to-treat analysis, and 11 completed treatment per the study design. Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors criteria were used to assess overall response in nonirradiated target lesions. Eight of 12 patients (66.6%) achieved a complete (CR) or partial response (PR) (1 CR and 7 PR). Six of the patients with PR on computed tomography had a CR by positron emission tomography imaging. Five of seven (71.4%) patients with melanoma had a PR or CR, and three of five (60%) with RCC had a PR. Immune monitoring showed a statistically significantly greater frequency of proliferating CD4(+) T cells with an early activated effector memory phenotype (CD3(+)CD4(+)Ki67(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(-)CCR7(-)CD45RA(-)CD27(+)CD28(+/-)) in the peripheral blood of responding patients. SBRT and IL-2 can be administered safely. Because the response rate in patients with melanoma was significantly higher than expected on the basis of historical data, we believe that the combination and investigation of CD4(+) effector memory T cells as a predictor of response warrant further study.
    Science translational medicine 06/2012; 4(137):137ra74. · 14.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Serum and plasma levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) correlate with prognosis in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). VEGF binds to 2 receptors on endothelial cells, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2. RPI.4610 (Angiozyme0) is an antiangiogenic ribozyme targeting the VEGFR-1 mRNA. Preclinical and phase 1 studies suggested that RPI.4610 is a well-tolerated agent with clinical activity in solid tumors. The authors' trial evaluated the efficacy of RPI.4610 in the treatment of patients with progressive MBC. This phase 2, multicenter, single-arm study was designed to assess the objective response rate of RPI.4610 in patients with MBC who had experienced disease progression with at least 1 course of chemotherapy for MBC. Patients received daily subcutaneous injections of RPI.4610 100 mg/m(2) for 12 weeks. Most patients (93%) had received at least 2 lines of chemotherapy previously; 69% of patients had received at least 3 lines of chemotherapy. Median follow-up was 2.76 months (range, 0.89-36.6 months). No partial responses nor complete responses were found. Median progression-free survival was 1.41 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.35-1.45). The median overall survival from start of treatment was 11.89 months (95% CI, 4.11-23.66). Treatment-related adverse events (AEs) were primarily grade 1 to 2 in intensity. Most common AEs were: injection site reactions, abdominal pain, anorexia, chromaturia, constipation, dyspnea, fatigue, headache, pain at the injection site, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Although RPI.4610 demonstrated a well-tolerated safety profile, its lack of clinical efficacy precludes this drug from further development.
    Cancer 01/2012; 118(17):4098-104. · 5.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We previously reported that autophagy in tumor cells plays a critical role in cross-presentation of tumor antigens and that autophagosomes are efficient antigen carriers for cross-priming of tumor-reactive CD8(+) T cells. Here, we sought to characterize further the autophagosome-enriched vaccine named DRibble (DRiPs-containing blebs), which is derived from tumor cells after inhibition of protein degradation, and to provide insights into the mechanisms responsible for their efficacy as a novel cancer immunotherapy. DRibbles were characterized by Western blot and light or transmission electron microscopy. The efficiency of cross-presentation mediated by DRibbles was first compared with that of whole-tumor cells and pure proteins. The mechanisms of antigen cross-presentation by DRibbles were analyzed, and the antitumor efficacy of the DRibble vaccine was tested in 3LL Lewis lung tumors and B16F10 melanoma. The DRibbles sequester both long-lived and short-lived proteins, including defective ribosomal products (DRiP), and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules exemplified by HSP90, HSP94, calreticulin, and HMGB1. DRibbles express ligands for CLEC9A, a newly described C-type lectin receptor expressed by a subset of conventional and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (DC), and cross-presentation was partially CLEC9A dependent. Furthermore, this autophagy-assisted antigen cross-presentation pathway involved both caveolae- and clathrin-mediated endocytosis and endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation machinery. It depends on proteasome and TAP1, but not lysosome functions of antigen-presenting cells. Importantly, DCs loaded with autophagosome-enriched DRibbles can eradicate 3LL Lewis lung tumors and significantly delay the growth of B16F10 melanoma. These data documented the unique characteristics and potent antitumor efficacy of the autophagosome-based DRibble vaccine. The efficacy of DRibble cancer vaccine will be further tested in clinical trials.
    Clinical Cancer Research 11/2011; 17(22):7047-57. · 8.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OX40 (CD134) is a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor expressed primarily on activated CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells and transmits a potent costimulatory signal when engaged. OX40 is transiently expressed after T-cell receptor engagement and is upregulated on the most recently antigen-activated T cells within inflammatory lesions (e.g. sites of autoimmune destruction and on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes). Hence, it is an attractive target to modulate immune responses: OX40 blocking agents to inhibit undesirable inflammation or OX40 agonists to enhance immune responses. In regards to this review, OX40 agonists enhance anti-tumor immunity, which leads to therapeutic effects in mouse tumor models. A team of laboratory and clinical scientists at the Providence Cancer Center has collaborated to bring the preclinical observations in cancer models from the bench to the bedside. This review describes the journey from in vitro experiments through preclinical mouse models to the successful translation of the first OX40 agonist to the clinic for the treatment of patients with cancer.
    Immunological Reviews 11/2011; 244(1):218-31. · 12.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Few immunotherapists would accept the concept of a single vaccination inducing a therapeutic anticancer immune response in a patient with advanced cancer. But what is the evidence to support the "more-is-better" approach of multiple vaccinations? Because we are unaware of trials comparing the effect of a single vaccine versus multiple vaccinations on patient outcome, we considered that an anticancer immune response might provide a surrogate measure of the effectiveness of vaccination strategies. Because few large trials include immunologic monitoring, the majority of information is gleaned from smaller trials in which an evaluation of immune responses to vaccine or tumor, before and at 1 or more times following the first vaccine, was performed. In some studies, there is convincing evidence that repeated administration of a specific vaccine can augment the immune response to antigens contained in the vaccine. In other settings, multiple vaccinations can significantly reduce the immune response to 1 or more targets. Results from 3 large adjuvant vaccine studies support the potential detrimental effect of multiple vaccinations as clinical outcomes in the control arms were significantly better than that for treatment groups. Recent research has provided insights into mechanisms that are likely responsible for the reduced responses in the studies noted above, but supporting evidence from clinical specimens is generally lacking. Interpretation of these results is further complicated by the possibility that the dominant immune response may evolve to recognize epitopes not present in the vaccine. Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration approval of the first therapeutic cancer vaccine and recent developments from preclinical models and clinical trials provide a substantial basis for optimism and a critical evaluation of cancer vaccine strategies.
    The Cancer Journal 09/2011; 17(5):379-96. · 3.61 Impact Factor
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    Walter J Urba, Dan L Longo
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    ABSTRACT: The pursuit of tumor-reactive T cells as a cancer therapy has continued unabated since the discovery of the graft-versus-leukemia effect in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation.(1) Some successes have been noted: the adoptive transfer of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific T cells can prevent and treat post-transplantation lymphomas,(2) and the adoptive transfer of in vitro activated and expanded autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes after systemic depletion of lymphocytes induces durable complete remissions in some heavily pretreated patients with metastatic melanoma.(3) Therapy with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes is difficult and expensive, and it has benefited only patients with melanoma. Redirecting T cells by gene transfer of . . .
    New England Journal of Medicine 08/2011; 365(8):754-7. · 54.42 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

7k Citations
1,397.36 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1998–2014
    • Providence Portland Medical Center
      Portland, Oregon, United States
  • 2013
    • Rush University Medical Center
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2012
    • Oregon Research Institute
      Eugene, Oregon, United States
  • 2011
    • Portland VA Medical Center
      Portland, Oregon, United States
  • 2010
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2007
    • Loyola University Chicago
      • Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center
      Chicago, IL, United States
  • 2005
    • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
      • Division of Hematology/Oncology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2002
    • Oregon Health and Science University
      Portland, Oregon, United States
  • 2001
    • Lafayette College
      • Department of Biology
      Easton, PA, United States
    • National Institutes of Health
      Maryland, United States
  • 1988–2000
    • Leidos Biomedical Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 1989–1999
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      • Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program
      Maryland, United States
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States