PFDD Faculty Fellows Alumni - 2012




William Curry, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School; Director of Neurosurgical Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Mentor: Glenn Dranoff, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Co Leader, Cancer Vaccine Center, Medical Oncology and Director, Human Gene Transfer Laboratory Core, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Department Chair: Robert L. Martuza, MD, William and Elizabeth Sweet Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Neurosurgical Service, Massachusetts General Hospital

Title of Research Project: Immune monitoring and antigen discovery in patients with malignant glioma


Malignant glioma is a devastating disease, and very few patients have durable responses to therapy.    Immunotherapy is a promising approach, and, increasingly, clinical trials have demonstrated safety and biological activity.  Survivals results, though uncontrolled and in selected patient populations, are promising.   The field is challenged by the lack of standard measures with which to monitor responses to immunotherapy.   Standard imaging can be difficult to interpret in the setting of treatment-associated inflammation and progression-free survival may not be as meaningful and outcome as it is with standard chemotherapy and targeted therapies.    One of our objectives, therefore, is the identification of glioma-associated antigens, by examining antibody responses at baseline and in response to glioma vaccination.  This will be accomplished by patient serum screening of tumor cDNA libraries and by probing of cancer peptide-derived protein arrays.    Once antigens are identified, we will quantify vaccinated patient immune responses to these epitopes over time as multiple rounds of vaccine are administered.   We will also monitor antibody responses to known glioma-associated antigens, and we will measure T-lymphocyte responses as well.  The goal of this project is to generate a library of novel glioma-associated antigens, the responses to which can be followed as measures of biological response to tumor vaccination.  Furthermore, these peptides may be developed as future vaccination material, if sufficiently antigenic.


William Curry, MD is the Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.   Dr. Curry graduated from Cornell University Medical College in 1997 after which he trained in neurosurgery at Mass General.  Following the completion of residency in 2004, he studied within the Program for Clinical Effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health and was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Glenn Dranoff, MD, co-Director of the Cancer Vaccine Center at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. 

Dr. Curry is principally interested in developing immune-based strategies for treating patients with malignant brain tumors.   He has been the PI for a completed phase I clinical trial examining autologous tumor cell-based vaccination for patients with recurrent malignant glioma, and his laboratory focuses on monitoring antitumor immune responses in patients.   In addition, he studies preclinical models of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for intracranial tumors.

Dr. Curry also conducts outcomes research regarding brain tumors.  He is the Director of Neurosurgical Education at Mass General, and he is the faculty advisor to the Neurosurgery Interest Group at Harvard Medical School.