Dr. Kunle Odunsi is a gynecologic oncologist who specializes in the treatment of ovarian cancer. As the director of UCCCC, Dr. Odunsi oversees all programmatic aspects of cancer at the University of Chicago including the three primary missions of research, patient care, and education. He sets the strategic direction of UCCCC, which emphasizes basic, translational, and clinical research efforts; collaborative cancer discovery and care; outreach to and engagement of the catchment area; and expansion of development opportunities for early career and promising cancer researchers. Dr. Odunsi also continues to treat patients and mentor physicians in the clinic.
As a nationally recognized expert in immunotherapy and vaccine therapy for cancer, Dr. Odunsi’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of immune recognition and tolerance in ovarian cancer and translating these findings to immunotherapy clinical trials. He pioneered the development of antigen-specific vaccine therapy and “next generation” adoptive T-cell immunotherapies to prolong remission rates in women with ovarian cancer. His research in tumor immunology and immunotherapy focuses on mechanisms of immune recognition in human ovarian cancer and the pre-clinical and clinical development of tumor antigen-targeted therapies. Currently he is co-principal investigator on the Roswell Park–University of Chicago Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in ovarian cancer.
Dr. Odunsi has received many honors and awards for his work, including election to the National Academy of Medicine in 2018 and the Rosalind Franklin Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Award in 2019. He has authored or co-authored more than 360 publications and contributed to several books and book chapters. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Research Institute, and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation Alliance, among others. He serves or has served on 10 editorial boards and multiple NIH study sections and held numerous visiting professorships and guest lectureships. He also holds leadership positions in several national organizations, such as co-chair of the NCI Cancer Moonshot Immuno-Oncology Translational Network and chairperson-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research’s Cancer Immunology Working Group.