Dr. Antoni Ribas, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the tumor immunology program at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been inducted into the 2020 class of Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy for his work in immunology and the development of new therapies for malignant melanoma.    

The recognition is bestowed annually to a group of scientists who are being honored for their contributions that have propelled innovation and progress against cancer. 

Ribas, one of 19 fellows, was chosen for his seminal clinical research contributions that led to the development of the drug pembrolizumab as the first-in-class approved anti-PD-1 immunotherapy for the treatment of melanoma, for which few effective therapies exist. Pembrolizumab has been a significant advancement in the treatment of melanoma by turning on the immune system to fight the deadly cancer, and has been approved for the use in more than 10 other cancers.

Ribas is also being recognized for his characterization of treatments targeting the gene mutations BRAF and MEK, blocking CTLA-4 to treat cancer, and for deciphering the molecular mechanisms responsible for immunotherapeutic resistance. These contributions have since fueled additional efforts to understand the relationship between the immune system and cancer.

“I am truly honored to have been elected to the Fellows of AACR,” said Ribas, who is also the director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA and member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. “I sit alongside many great physicians and scientists who work every day to help develop and advance treatment strategies for people diagnosed with some of the deadliest cancers.”