James Allison, cancer researcher

There's a very nice story in Discover Magazine, about Dr. James Allison. He's not an M.D., but rather a PhD biochemist and immunologist who discovered the principle of the "checkpoint inhibitor" - drugs that can activate the immune system to attack cancer, even though the cancer cells are not foreign invaders. The story is available at:


The people who work at this kind of research can spend decades trying to isolate and possibly modify a single molecule, figure out its structure and function even though it's too small to see even in a microscope, and test its activity, first in a test tube, then in mice, and finally in humans with cancer. Along the way, they learn things about the nature of cancer and of human biology that nobody knew before and that become the starting point for further and deeper research.

We rarely even learn the names of people like Dr. Allison but I think people like him are heroes who make a real difference in our lives.


6 Replies

  • Excellent piece. I immediately posted it on Facebook.

  • Right here in Houston! ;)

  • As a Researcher in my past life in Outer Space Chemistry, I can really applaud Dr. Allison. More will be coming, as others hitch their wagon to this type of research.


  • > As a Researcher in my past life in Outer Space Chemistry ...

    Far out!


    [Sorry, I couldn't restrain myself :) ]

  • Well I am one who went thru the 60's, today I am 73---I used the term on purpose to let you all know I was a Hippie from the 60's!


  • Oh, Alan--sometimes it is best to try some levity--under our circumstances.


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