Dr. June and his laboratory discovered several basic scientific principles of how the cells in the immune system work to fight cancer and infections in the 1980s and 1990s. These basic findings were translated into clinical trials by developing robust technology to grow the cells of the immune system in the laboratory.
Using this culture system, the laboratory team conducted the first clinical evaluation of gene-modified T cells, initially in people suffering from HIV/AIDS and subsequently in cancer patients with advanced leukemia. In collaboration with others, the laboratory conducted the first in-human evaluations of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) in T cells.
The CAR-T cells invented in the June laboratory were awarded “Breakthrough Therapy” status by the FDA for acute leukemia in children and adults in 2014 and lymphoma for adults in 2018. The CAR-T technology created by his team at the University of Pennsylvania has been developed for widespread global use by Novartis for children and adults with blood cancers.
June, who has published more than 500 manuscripts, has received numerous prizes and honors, including election into the Institute of Medicine in 2012, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2020, and received the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize. In 2017, he was named a fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy and received the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.