Groundbreaking Scientist Joins CUCU School of Medicine Jan 26, 2018
Dr. Fry also has been named Co-Director of the Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Initiative on the Anschutz Medical Campus as part of his role as Director of Cancer Immunotherapy.
Before joining the Anschutz Medical Campus community, Dr. Fry was a Tenure Track Investigator at the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute. Prior to that he served as Chief of Blood and Marrow Transplantation at Children’s National Medical Center, a position he held until 2010 when he returned to the Pediatric Oncology Branch as Head of the Hematologic Malignancies Section.
Dr. Fry received his M.D. from Georgetown University in 1992. After completing a pediatric residency at Georgetown in 1995, he served as Chief Pediatric Resident. Dr. Fry undertook fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology at Johns Hopkins University and established a research program focused on the immunology of stem cell transplantation as a platform for cancer immunotherapy.
“We are pleased Dr. Fry is joining our faculty,” said John Reilly, Jr., M.D., Dean of the CU School of Medicine. “His leadership, innovative research, and collaborative approach to improving cancer
treatment will expand the innovative and state-of-the-art therapy available at Children’s Colorado and will be an important component of our programs focused on developing cell-based therapeutics for a variety of diseases.”
Dr. Fry was among the first scientists to investigate the potential to insert modified genes into a child’s own T-cells to target CD19, a surface protein found on nearly all cells affected by acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The first product using this technology, called chimeric antigen T-cell (CAR-T cells), was approved by the FDA for pediatric use in August 2017 and achieved an astonishing 80 percent remission rate in children with highly refractory leukemia resistant to all other therapies including conventional bone marrow transplant.
“Treatment for autoimmune diseases involves manipulating the same cells we’re manipulating for cancer treatment,” said Dr. Fry. “There are ways to use these same procedures to turn these cells off instead of on. This absolutely has potential beyond cancer.”
Dr. Fry has led several major studies to improve treatments for people with leukemia. In November, the journal Nature Medicine published an article that outlined a new treatment that genetically alters a patient’s cells to fight cancer. Dr. Fry is the first author of the study. His work has been highlighted in the Discovery documentary First in Human, which aired last August, and in a recent New York Times article and Washington Post feature.
As the newest researcher of cellular therapy at the Anschutz Medical Campus, Dr. Fry will be joining a group of exceptional researchers in the Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Initiative, part of the School of Medicine’s Transformational Research Funding program, which provided five grants totaling $80 million to research projects on campus. Funding for the program comes from clinical earnings of the faculty, from annual financial support from UCHealth, and philanthropy, including a commitment by The Anschutz Foundation.
Dr. Fry is a member of multiple societies including the American Society of Hematology, the American Association of Immunology, the Children’s Oncology Group where he serves as Vice Chair of Cell Therapy, the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and he was elected into the American Society of Clinical Investigation this past year. He also serves in leadership positions in the Oncology Strategy Group in the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium and the Cellular Therapy Consortium.
”The opportunity to recruit Dr. Fry here to add to the already outstanding faculty on campus is truly amazing. We are fortunate that he chose to come to Children’s and the University over the many other leading institutions in the country who wanted him. The future is bright here,” said Lia Gore, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant at the University and Head of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Colorado.
Dr. Fry is now working to develop a CAR-T cell product targeting both CD19 and CD22. The goal: decrease resistance and increase durability of remission. He’s also working to apply CAR-T technology to other types of cancer; Dr. Fry and Children’s Colorado Neuro-Oncology Program Founder Nick Foreman, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, are currently collaborating to develop a cells that could combat brain tumors. Other collaborations with Michael Verneris, M.D., the Program Leader of Bone Marrow Transplant at Children’s Colorado and Professor of Pediatrics, will focus on novel cell therapy for sarcoma that can be used in adults and children. These are only a few of the examples of the possibilities for cellular treatments for previously incurable diseases.