Joe Trapani

Professor Joe Trapani

MBBS FRACP PhD FFSc (RCPA) FAHMS FAA Director, Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy
Alliance position: Head, Cancer Immunology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre View alliance profile

Immunotherapy is a game-changing field of cancer treatment which harnesses the patient’s own immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells. The Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy is a joint initiative of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC); supported by the Victorian Government.

As Director of the Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy, Professor Joe Trapani leads 60 researchers from six VCCC alliance institutions, linked with others nationally and working collaboratively to discover and improve cancer immunotherapy.

The Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy draws together Peter Mac’s research experience and clinical translation capabilities, leading academic and scientific programs from the University of Melbourne, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and the Doherty Institute, as well as the critical mass of all ten members of the VCCC alliance.

Since commencing the program in 1990, Professor Trapani’s immunology research colleagues, with collaborators across the VCCC alliance (initially at Austin Health, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, University of Melbourne, and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research), have made many seminal contributions to cancer immunobiology, including an understanding of cancer immune surveillance in mice and humans, and in devising new cancer therapies. As a prime example, the team have since 1995 been devising CAR T therapy, which utilises gene engineering approaches to harness the power of a patient’s own ‘killer lymphocytes’ as adoptive immunotherapy for their cancer.

Professor Trapani has been Head of the Cancer Immunology Program at Peter Mac since 2000, and was previously Peter Mac’s Executive Director Cancer Research (2009-2018) and Inaugural Head of the Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology at the University of Melbourne (2012-18).