Kirsten Williams, MD
As a young kid, my best friend’s brother developed cancer. This inspired me to try to advance cures and to swim for LLS. As a medical student, I witnessed my first immunotherapy as newly transplanted cord cells eradicated acute myeloid leukemia. My passion to motivate the immune system to cure cancer (and avert our healthy organs) has continued. Initially, I studied how to restart the thymus to make these cancer-killing T cells, then I learned the intricacies of expanding tumor-directed T cells. I am grateful to LLS for awarding funds to improve on this process, to better propagate and activate the cancer-killing T cells. Using a novel process to generate these cancer-specific T cells, we can then give them to patients who have had recurrence of their acute myeloid leukemia after bone marrow transplantation. These patients have endured our most intensive therapy to achieve a cure, and we hope that our therapy will offer a new way to help decrease their cancer without major toxicities.