Top-class researcher in tumor immunology and immunotherapy
George Coukos is the Director of Ludwig Lausanne, Director of the Swiss Cancer Center Lausanne and Professor at the University of Lausanne. Much of his career was as a clinician and cancer researcher but he has focused his work on immunotherapy and the exploration of tumor immunology, with a focus on ovarian cancer.
In the early 2000’s, his research uncovered the existence of spontaneous immune responses in ovarian tumors and described their influence on the severity of disease. This research suggested that ovarian cancer may be susceptible to immunotherapy, and inspired me to explore the development of such therapies. His laboratory also made critical contributions to the understanding of how tumors exploit regulatory T cells to suppress immune responses. In parallel, he has also been very involved in the development of novel immunotherapies—including dendritic cell vaccines—and their evaluation in clinical trials related to ovarian cancer.
Coukos was recently in the news for his idea of creating a mondernized anti-cancer center in Europe, which will have the name “Agora Cancer Centre” (from the greek word “Agora” which means “Market”), planned to be ready in 2018. His goal is to create an open culture of innovation and communication between clinical and lab research, in order to reach new experimental therapies more quickly.
“We chose the name ‘Agora’ as a reference to Ancient Greece, because we want to bring closer and maximize interaction and collaboration between researchers, doctors and engineers. Our goal is to multiply the chances for new innovative discoveries, which can be ‘translated’ directly into good clinical practice”, says George Coukos.
“The builiding is going to host about 400 scientists and doctors, it’s been designed in open architecture, and it has a lot of free spaces so that people can talk with each other and interact. It is inside the space of the university hospital (CHUV) so that it is directly linked with the clinical development program. We ‘ll always ask for talented researchers from abroad in order to hire them and work with them. Furthermore, our innovative clinical programs will also be open to patients outside Switzerland”, says George Coukos.
Coukos was born in Athens in 1961 and he received his medical degree and PhD from the University Hospital of Modena and the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in women’s oncology. He lived there for 22 years until he became a Professor and Head of The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center, obtaining great experience as a doctor, a researcher and a manager.
He has published more than 200 scientific articles, he has been honored with many international prizes, and he is considered to be one of the best doctors who specialize in cancer in the USA.