Surgical Oncologist Dr. Steven Rosenberg receives the 2018 Jacobson Innovation Award

Surgical Oncologist Dr. Steven Rosenberg receives the 2018 Jacobson Innovation Award


IMAGE:¬†Surgical oncologist Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., was presented with the Jacobson Innovation Award on June 8 by Wendy Jacobson, M.D., on behalf of her father, Julius H. Jacobson II,…
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Credit: Oscar and Associates

CHICAGO: The 2018 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) was presented to internationally-renowned surgical oncologist Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, at a dinner held in his honor in Chicago, Ill., on June 8. Dr. Rosenberg is chief of the surgery branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., and a professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., and at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

The prestigious Jacobson Innovation Award honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery and is made possible through a gift from Julius H. Jacobson II, MD, FACS, and his wife Joan. Dr. Jacobson is a general vascular surgeon known for his pioneering work in the development of microsurgery.

Dr. Rosenberg was honored with this international surgical award for his pioneering role in the development of immunotherapy and gene therapy. When Dr. Rosenberg began his work in immunotherapy in the late 1970s, very little was known about T lymphocyte function in cancer and there was no convincing evidence that any immune reaction existed in patients against their cancers. Despite this dearth of knowledge about the disease, Dr. Rosenberg developed the first effective immunotherapies for selected patients with advanced cancer, and was the first to successfully insert foreign genes into humans. His studies of cell transfer immunotherapy resulted in durable complete remissions in patients with metastatic melanoma. Additionally, his studies of the adoptive transfer of genetically modified lymphocytes resulted in the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with melanoma, sarcomas, and lymphomas.

In his current role at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Rosenberg oversees the surgery branch’s extensive clinical program aimed at translating scientific advances into effective immunotherapies for cancer patients. Dr. Rosenberg’s current research is focused on defining the host immune response of patients to their cancers. These studies emphasize the ability of human lymphocytes to recognize unique cancer antigens and the identification of anti-tumor T cell receptors that can be exploited to develop new cell transfer immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer patients. Dr. Rosenberg is currently an investigator in 14 clinical trials being conducted through the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research.

Furthermore, Dr. Rosenberg has received numerous awards throughout his distinguished career. In 1981, he received a Meritorious Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service for pioneering work in the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas and osteogenic sarcoma. He received that honor again in 1986, this time for his excellence and leadership in research and clinical investigation relating to the cellular biology and immunology of cancer treatment. Dr. Rosenberg also twice received the Armand Hammer Cancer Prize, in 1985 and 1988, for his cancer research accomplishments. In 1991, he received the highest honor given by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Karnofsky Prize. He was awarded the Flance-Karl Award, the highest honor given by the American Surgical Association, in 2002. In 2005, he received the Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Award, which is the highest honor given by the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer. Most recently, he was named the recipient of the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society in 2015.

Dr. Rosenberg is currently a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and has served on its board of directors. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Association of Immunologists, among others. He has authored more than 1,100 articles in scientific literature covering various aspects of cancer research, as well as eight books. He was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Immunotherapy from 1990 to 1995, and again from 2000 to the present.


Note to Editors: A photo of Dr. Rosenberg is available on request from the ACS Office of Public Information as of Monday, June 11, 2018. Email:

About Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD

Dr. Rosenberg received his bachelors and medical degrees at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., in 1961 and 1964, respectively. In 1968, he received a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Dr. Rosenberg went on to complete his residency training in surgery in 1974 at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Mass.

After completing residency training, Dr. Rosenberg became chief of surgery in 1974 at the National Cancer Institute, a position he has held to the present time. In 1979, he became a professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a position he also continues to hold. Dr. Rosenberg began his other current position as a professor of surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1988.

In 2015, Dr. Rosenberg was named a foreign adjunct professor in cell therapy in the department of laboratory medicine at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

View a list of all Jacobson Innovation Award Recipients.

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