November 24, 2021 -- Jackson Laboratory Professor Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed as the first chairholder of the Laboratory’s Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research.

More than 35 donors contributed over $1.5 million, which has been matched with an additional $1.5 million from JAX, to establish the chair, named in honor of JAX CEO and President Edison T. Liu, M.D. After a decade of leading JAX as president and CEO, Liu is returning full-time to his research in the genomics of cancer.

The chair supports a faculty position in the Laboratory’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center , which seeks to discover precise genomic solutions for cancer by making basic discoveries with human impact. Palucka was recently named the director of the JAX Cancer Center, succeeding Liu, who served as director until November 1, 2021.

“Dr. Palucka is the natural choice as the first chairholder of this endowed chair,” said Liu. “Her significant contributions to cancer immunology that spanned basic sciences and clinical therapeutics, and her successful launch of key initiatives in our cancer center showed not only a creative spirit but strong leadership that has been recognized by all. I was already deeply honored and humbled to have this chair in my name. And when Dr. Palucka accepted the appointment to be the first chairholder, I was overjoyed.”

The incoming president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory, Lon Cardon, Ph.D., FMedSci , added, “Cancer research is a foundational discipline at JAX. Karolina Palucka’s appointment to The Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research signals our strong commitment to cancer research and to Dr. Palucka as its leader. I can’t think of a better person to guide our cancer program into the future.”

A cancer immunology pioneer

Palucka specializes in human immunology with a focus on experimental immunotherapy, including vaccines that target cancer. Her career trajectory began in the early 1990s as a young cancer doctor in Warsaw, Poland, when she felt that the treatments available to her were insufficient to help her patients.

“I am honored to be named as chairholder of The Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research,” said Palucka. “Ed is a dear friend and colleague who has transformed how I think about the study of cancer, and I look forward to continuing our work to understand the basic mechanisms underlying the disease.”

An internationally recognized clinical oncologist and cancer immunologist, Palucka came to JAX in 2014 from the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR) in Dallas, where she was the Michael A.E. Ramsay Chair for Cancer Immunology Research and director of the Ralph M. Steinman Center for Cancer Vaccines. She is the recipient of many honors including a Career Award for Important Contributions to Tumor Immunotherapy from the European Academy of Tumor Immunology.

Supporting the JAX mission

The Laboratory recently announced the establishment of three new endowed chairs, including the Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. In March, the Laboratory announced the appointment of three faculty members to The Bernard and Lusia Milch Endowed Chair , The Ann Watson Symington Chair in Addiction Research and The Florine Deschenes Roux Chair for Genomics and Computational Biology in order to further research into Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, cancer and computational biology.

2020 was a record-breaking year for fundraising at the Laboratory, with more than $21 million raised in support of the JAX mission. JAX donors made transformational gifts towards vision research , the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative , COVID-19 research , STEM education and more.