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Lecture to address using vaccines to combat cancer

Keith Knutson
Keith Knutson

A renowned researcher from Mayo Clinic will share how vaccines can be used to combat cancer at a free lecture Monday, April 8. 

The 11th annual Francis Miller Public Lecture in Cancer Research will be delivered by Keith Knutson at 7 p.m. in Herold Crest Room (253C) in the University Student Union on the South Dakota State University campus. It is sponsored by the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. The talk is geared toward the general public, the college reports. 

Knutson, a professor of immunology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, has done cancer research for 25 years and has completed two postdoctoral fellowships. 

Knutson’s research is aimed at preventing patients with cancer from relapsing after receiving optimal conventional therapies. His talk is “Three Ways to Combat Cancer with Vaccines.” Knutson explained that the three ways are primary prevention, secondary prevention and treatment. 

Primary prevention entails preventing cancer from ever happening at all. Secondary prevention entails preventing cancer from coming back after cancer treatment. Vaccines can also be used to shrink existing tumors, Knutson said. 

His research focuses on the immunology and immunotherapy of prevalent women’s cancer, namely breast, ovarian and lung cancers, both the basic immunobiology and clinical translation, including clinical trials. 

His contributions to science include clinical development and testing of tumor antigen-specific vaccines in patients with breast and ovarian cancers. He currently has six FDA-approved vaccine trials underway and is principal investigator of three Department of Defense grants and three National Institutes of Health grants to test vaccines for breast and ovarian cancer, including triple negative breast cancer for which there are no targeted therapies. 

In addition to the public lecture, Knutson also will give the scientific lecture “Cancer Vaccines: Revitalizing an Old Concept in a New Era of Medicine” at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Avera Health and Science Center Room 043. 

Funding for the lectures comes from the Francis Miller Endowment, which was created by Francis J. “Johnny” Miller, a longtime pharmacist and drugstore owner in Redfield and Huron as well as in his hometown of Gettysburg. Assets from his trust became available to the SDSU Foundation after the death of his daughter, Frances Miller Anderson, in 2009. 

Miller, who died in 1987, was appreciative of short courses conducted by SDState because his only training was a 90-day course in Denver during the Great Depression. 

For more information on the talks, contact Wenfeng An, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.