The checkpoint debate is about to get real

Can the new checkpoint inhibitors in the clinic change the landscape of cancer care? Or is this just a new wave of frustration? By the end of Q1, we’re likely to see the first approval of a new checkpoint inhibitor since PD-(L)1 permanently altered the landscape of cancer therapy. But can LAG-3, or TIGIT, etc., have a significant impact in expanding the effectiveness of PD-(L)1? Hope is mixed with considerable skepticism, and we’ll map out the debate in an in-depth report.

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Juan Jaen

Juan Jaen

President, Arcus Biosciences

Dr. Jaen, PhD, has been engaged in all aspects of drug discovery and development for more than 30 years, and in 2015 he co-founded Arcus. Before starting Arcus, Dr. Jaen was co-founder and President of Flexus Biosciences. He was Chief Scientific Officer and SVP of Drug Discovery at ChemoCentryx for 7 years, where he led the discovery and progression into the clinic of 8 novel immunology drug candidates. Dr. Jaen has also held various positions at Amgen, Tularik, and Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert. He is an inventor on 50 patents and has helped the advancement of over 20 novel molecules into clinical development across a range of indications.

Steven O'Day

Steven O'Day

Chief Medical Officer, Agenus

Dr. Steven O’Day serves as Agenus’ Chief Medical Officer. He is responsible for leading the expansion of the company’s presence in the I-O field. A pioneer in CTLA-4 inhibition, Steven played key roles in the advancement of cancer therapies Yervoy and Opdivo, and has been the principal investigator in more than 200 clinical trials. Prior to joining Agenus, he was Executive Director of the John Wayne Cancer Institute and Cancer Clinics at Providence St. John’s Health Center, and Director of the Melanoma and Cutaneous Oncology Research Center. Steven was a visiting scholar in philosophy and medical ethics at Oxford, received his MD from Johns Hopkins, and was a Fellow at the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Leena Gandhi

Leena Gandhi

Director, Center for Cancer Therapeutic Innovation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Leena Gandhi received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and her MD from New York University prior to completing postgraduate training at Massachusetts General Hospital and at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She was a thoracic oncologist working in Early Drug Development at DFCI until 2016 when she moved to NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center to serve as the Director of Thoracic Medical Oncology. She has focused her research on novel drug development and biomarkers for selection in lung cancer with a particular focus on immuno-oncology. She led pivotal studies demonstrating the utility of PDL1 as a biomarker for efficacy of anti-PD1 agents in lung cancer and studies demonstrating the value of combining immunotherapy and chemotherapy in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. She served as Vice President of Immuno-Oncology Development at Eli Lilly leading the development of novel immuno-oncology agents across cancer types and was recruited back to DFCI in 2020 as the Director of the Center for Cancer Therapeutic Innovation, an integrated clinical/translational research center that brings together specialized cancer expertise to develop and conduct innovative early phase clinical trials spanning multiple malignancies.

Jonathan Cheng

Jonathan Cheng

Senior Vice President and Head of Oncology Development, Global Drug Development, Bristol Myers Squibb

Jonathan Cheng, MD, is Senior Vice President and Head of Oncology Development and a member of Samit Hirawat’s Global Drug Development Leadership Team.

Jon’s background as a medical oncologist and cancer researcher has provided him extensive drug development experience in both academia and industry for over 20 years. Jon joined BMS in September 2020 as the therapeutic area head of oncology clinical development, managing the portfolio of solid tumor clinical trials. Prior to joining BMS, Jon held roles of increasing responsibility over 11 years at Merck where he was most recently Vice President Oncology Therapeutic Lead. And prior to that he was in academia for 11 years as an Associate Professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center where he led as Principal Investigator (PI) a tumor microenvironment drug development team, and where he continues to see patients weekly as an Adjunct Professor.

Kyle Blankenship



A native of Austin, Kyle previously worked as an associate editor at another leading biopharma publication and has held editor roles at two daily newspapers in Texas. In addition to a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, Kyle holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas in Denton. At Endpoints, Kyle leads the company’s manufacturing coverage as well as running point on virtual events, editing and content strategy. An avid cook and history nerd, you can find Kyle hovering over the stove—spatula in one hand and a World War II tome in the other.