Genomics in the service of cancer immunotherapy

Zoltan Szallasi
Harvard Medical School

Brief Bio

Zoltan Szallasi, MD is a senior research scientist, the Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Harvard Medical School and a professor at the Department of Systems Biology at the Danish technical University.

Dr. Szallasi's group is interested in the application of high throughput measurements for cancer research. They implemented several methods that increased the reliability of microarray and next generation sequencing measurements. They are also interested in approaches that combine genomic scale measurements in a manner that describe essential cancer biology in a robust fashion. Dr. Szallasi is currently developing methods that determine and quantify specific DNA repair pathway aberrations in human tumor biopsies. This work led to a DNA aberration profile-based method that predicts response to platinum-based therapy with high accuracy, and which is currently in the final stages of comprehensive clinical validation.


The various forms of immunotherapy promise to be the most significant recent breakthrough in cancer therapy. In order to fully take advantage of this therapeutic approach we will need to understand better several key aspects of antitumor immune response. What are the key players in terms of immune cells? What is the role of HLA presentation and neopitopes? What is the relative significance of neoepitopes due to mutations, insertions/deletions or ectopically expressed genes? What is the significance of chemotherapy or DNA repair aberration induced mutations in the immune response to cancer? Many of these questions can be addressed by next generation sequencing, such as whole genome, whole exome and RNAseq approaches. However, the interpretation of the next generation sequencing data especially in regards to predicting biological functions, such as antigenicity, requires advanced computational tools, such as machine learning algorithms. This tutorial will discuss these issues through concrete cases to show how connecting DNA repair, mutational processes and genotoxic therapy leads to successful cancer immunotherapy.

Important dates

Paper submission 18.06.2017
Tutorial application submission 04.06.2017
Notification of acceptance 20.07.2017
Camera-ready papers 15.08.2017
PhD Workshop
Paper submission 23.06.2017
Notification of acceptance 20.07.2017
Camera-ready papers 15.08.2017
Satellite Events
Satellite Event submission 16.04.2017
Notification of acceptance 30.04.2017