Dr. Prem Seth – Cancer Research Trailblazer.

Dr. Prem Seth: Pioneering Leader in the Field of Gene Therapy

Prem Seth, PhD, devoted his career to finding a cure for cancer.

A pioneer in the field of gene therapy, Dr. Seth served as Director of the Gene Therapy Program at the NorthShore Research Institute for nearly 20 years. . He died in August of 2021 after an exemplary career.

“Dr. Seth leaves behind a legacy at NorthShore of significant basic and translational cancer research,” said Janardan Khandekar, MD, Board of Directors/Janardan D. Khandekar, MD, Chair of Molecular Medicine, Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine at the NorthShore Research Institute. “A trailblazer in the field of gene therapy for cancer, he served in numerous leading roles in academic and professional societies in this field.”

Dr. Seth—who was a pioneer in the use of adenovirus-mediated gene therapy—joined NorthShore in 2002. At the time of his death, Dr. Seth was developing novel oncolytic viruses to selectively kill breast cancer cells. He also founded a company that can quickly translate his laboratory findings to patient care.

A Pioneer in Innovative Cancer Research

Dr. Seth oversaw a group of scientists developing treatments for cancer. His work was funded by the National Institutes of Health—including its prestigious five-year RO1 research grant—and the American Cancer Society. He also served on the editorial board of several academic journals, including Cancer Gene Therapy and Human Gene Therapy.

Dr. Seth’s focus was on developing oncolytic adenoviruses that target and treat breast and prostate cancer bone metastases. This work was especially promising and innovative, as these new treatments can render previously immunotherapy-resistant cancers—such as breast cancer—immunotherapy-sensitive.

Thanks to Dr. Seth’s pioneering work in this area, these new discoveries have the potential to significantly decrease the mortality rate for all cancers, including breast cancer, which kills 500,000 people every year nationally and millions across the globe.

His work as the principal investigator into oncolytic viruses will continue under the leadership of his longtime colleague and collaborator Weidong Xu, PhD, a researcher in NorthShore’s Gene Therapy Program.

“Genuine, individual philanthropy most often is the catalyst to big discoveries,” said Kevin Gray, senior director of philanthropy at NorthShore Foundation. “Dr. Seth’s recent National Institutes of Health grant is proof of that. He was able to leverage local dollars to initiate his work and get it to a point where it warranted review by NIH’s prestigious board of top scientists. NIH is the stamp of approval that acknowledges novel, promising research at the federal level. Only the top projects presented receive backing. This is a big deal and most definitely moves that all-important needle in helping women with breast cancer.”