Those affected by cancer are seeking a more sophisticated understanding of their treatment opportunities, especially around the new, breakthrough field of cancer immunotherapy. UCIR's mission is to meet that curiosity by providing a sound level of basic knowledge and up-to-date information for all who want to learn more about this new pillar of cancer treatment.
When Jan, Ed Fritsch’s wife of almost 40 years, passed away from breast cancer in 2011, he was trying to find some way to battle back against this terrible disease. Ed searched the recent cancer literature daily, and came across immunotherapy. Sadly, four years later, Ed’s son Matt passed away from melanoma. Matt was a successful engineer at SpaceX and had expressed the wish to his friend that if the cancer took him, he wanted his SpaceX stock donated to cancer research. Ed and Matt’s sisters, Lisa and Katie, all thought this was a wonderful request to honor.
Trying to find a creative way to use the funds, Ed recalled the value of staying up to date on the current literature. Applied to the rapidly expanding and fast-moving field of cancer immunotherapy, regularly digesting the rapid advancements of the field and making this information freely available to researchers too busy to invest the time individually would be an exceptional resource. This was how the Fritsch Foundation, a charitable, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was born – inspired by the kind and selfless generosity of a cancer victim.
Excited by the idea, Ute Burkhardt teamed up with Ed and in the fall of 2015 they formed ACIR (Accelerating Cancer Immunotherapy Research) to carry out the mission of the Fritsch Foundation. ACIR is now helping researchers around the globe to stay up to date with the advances in this important field.
Just about four years later, in early 2020, in the same spirit of sharing knowledge, they launched UCIR - a service dedicated to patients, caregivers, and loved ones to help them understand the science behind the therapies that are being increasingly utilized.
Who We Are
Co-Founder - President
Ed earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology with Nobel Laureate Howard Temin, and with Tom Maniatis helped build the first library of the human genome and was co-author of ‘‘*Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual*’’ which spread the application of recombinant DNA technology in the biomedical sciences. He worked for many years in senior positions in the biopharmaceutical industry. Like too many others, Ed lost loved ones – his wife Jan and son Matt – to cancer, which inspired him to leave retirement and battle back, specifically in the breakthrough field of cancer immunotherapy. As NeoVax project leader at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-founder of Neon Therapeutics, he brought the opportunity of personalized neoantigen-based cancer vaccines to the patient. Ed is currently a Presidential Fellow at the Dana-Farber, President of the Fritsch Foundation, and co-founder of ACIR.
Co-Founder - Executive Editor
Ute's career path has been characterized by a strong focus on cancer immunotherapy. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, for studies that focused on optimizing cancer vaccine design using mouse models in Winfried Wels’ lab. In her postdoctoral work in Cathy Wu’s lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute she developed innovative approaches to dissect the global and clonal dynamics of T cell responses underlying promising graft-versus-leukemia activity in patients with chronic leukemia after post-transplant personalized vaccination. Ute has been actively involved in designing and building ACIR and UCIR since the beginning.
Lauren is a scientific writer with a degree in Biology from Northeastern University and a broad background in scientific research, journalism, publishing, and communications. Her previous work has appeared in New Scientist, Reviewed, USA Today, and Wired UK. She specializes in translating highly complex scientific content into curated writing and schematic illustrations that are easy to digest.
Anna brings years of experience in writing and a multidisciplinary background in science and engineering to her role as a Scientific Writer at ACIR and UCIR. As a medical writer, Anna has written on a vast number of topics, including oncology, rare diseases, and multiple sclerosis. Prior to starting her career as a writer, Anna worked as a research scientist and engineer in the fields of biotechnology, materials, and aerospace. Anna holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University, and an M.Eng. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT.
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Gaelle has a background in communications and public relations. She has a long experience in promoting non-profit organizations through traditional media and social media. She has developed educational programs and outreach strategies for several cultural organizations. She holds a Master in International and Intercultural Communications from the Université de Bourgogne (Dijon, France). She is excited to advocate for a better understanding of cancer immunotherapy research with UCIR.
Contributing Scientific Writer
Julia began her career in cancer immunotherapy in Ugur Sahin’s lab at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany in collaboration with the Institute for Translational Oncology and BioNTech. Her Ph.D. thesis in biology focused on the development of mRNA and protein bispecific single-chain antibodies targeting stomach cancer. Julia further completed training in project management for clinical trials & healthcare at the mibeg-Institute of Medicine (Cologne, Germany) and worked as a clinical trial consultant at sms-oncology (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), a clinical research organization, where she was involved in the consulting program for oncology drug development, drafting of (pre-)clinical development plans, and medical writing for clinical study reports, protocols, and newsletters.
Contributing Scientific Writer and Editor
Stan has more than 30 years of laboratory and managerial experience in genetics, molecular biology, and immunology. Stan has worked to identify and validate novel immune and inflammation-related disease targets, and was a member of the Leadership Team in the Pfizer Inflammation group. Stan received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Washington University and obtained post-doctoral training and worked as an Assistant Professor in the Genetics Unit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore before joining the Genetics Institute and pursuing a career in pharmaceutical development. Most recently, Stan has worked in science education, developing project-based science curricula and teaching science at the elementary and middle school levels.
Contributing Scientific Writer
Ethan completed his B.S. in Biology at Keene State College where he worked in Jason Pellettieri’s lab. As part of Dr. Pellettieri’s team, he presented at multiple scientific conferences and co-authored an NIH-funded study, published in eLife. Ethan has always had a passion for science and creative writing, bringing his enthusiasm for both to the table as he develops himself as a scientific writer. He is excited to use these skills to make immunotherapy research more accessible to cancer patients and their family and friends, as they seek explanations and advice in this difficult time of their lives.