Dr. Yeong "Christopher" Choi to Head RPCI's New Therapeutic Cell Production Facility

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BUFFALO, NY — Yeong “Christopher” Choi, PhD, has joined Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) as Director of the newly created Therapeutic Cell Production Facility, a critical component of RPCI’s Center for Immunotherapy. The facility is the first of its kind in the Western New York region.

The objective of the center is to accelerate efforts to bring effective immune-based therapies to cancer patients sooner, explains Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of the Center for Immunotherapy. “One promising approach is the use of immune cells directly harvested from cancer patients. The cells are expanded and manipulated in a ‘clean’ facility, and given back to patients in order to fight their cancer,” says Dr. Odunsi. “The Therapeutic Cell Production Facility will prepare these immune cells, and take appropriate steps to ensure that they can be safely administered to our patients. It will allow us to deliver these cutting-edge, innovative treatments to our patients.”

As Director of the facility, Dr. Choi will be responsible for developing and implementing standard operating procedures and a quality control plan for the facility — of crucial importance because the facility must be compliant with all FDA regulations.

Dr. Choi comes to RPCI from California, where he was an associate project scientist and GMP Facilities Laboratory Manager in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Odunsi cites Dr. Choi’s graduate training in immunology and regulatory science as well as his nearly ten years of experience in cell production as key qualifications for the job. “He has an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge on the operations of a cell production facility,” says Dr. Odunsi. “We are fortunate to have him here.”

“As the Director of the Therapeutic Cell Production Facility, I want to establish a state-of-the-art GMP facility that will support research designed to translate promising new cellular therapies from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside.” says Dr. Choi. “I recognized Roswell Park’s commitment to developing novel cellular therapies and I wanted to be a part of it. Roswell Park is an internationally respected organization with outstanding scientists and physicians who share a common goal of curing cancer.”

Dr. Choi holds a PhD in molecular microbiology and immunology from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. He has presented research findings widely, before such organizations as the American Society of Gene Therapy and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and his work has been published in journals such as Molecular Therapy and the Journal of Immunology.

RPCI is included on U.S. News & World Report’s 2010-11 listing of the Best Hospitals for cancer care. In addition, AARP The Magazine in 2009 cited RPCI among the eight institutions it identified as the best hospitals in the nation for complex or “extremely difficult” cases of cancer.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org