Full Name
Diwakar Davar
Job Title
Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh
Speaker Bio
Dr. Diwakar Davar is currently an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His initial work evaluated outcomes of melanoma patients treated with HD IL-2; where his data suggested that HD IL-2 administration in a non-ICU setting did not compromise outcomes. He subsequently evaluated whether the addition of immunomodulatory doses of pegylated IFN (peg-IFN) could improve upon the benefit of PD-1 blockade in advanced PD-1 naïve melanoma. In this study, he showed that the combination resulted in 61% ORR with 46% 2-year PFS and that response was associated with IFN-g gene expression and CD8 T cell infiltrate.

Separately, he has contributed to the development and implementation of the first-in-human studies of TIGIT mAb (BMS-986207), Tim-3 mAb (TSR-022), GITR mAb (TRX-518), CTLA-4 NF (BMS-986218), anti-IL-8 (BMS-986253), and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) receptor 4 (EP4) antagonist (BMS-986310).

Based on emerging data implicating intestinal dysbiosis in mediating non-response to PD-1 blockade, he developed a protocol evaluating fecal microbiota transplant in combination with PD-1 blockade to treat PD-1 non-responders. This first-in-human study (NCT03341143) was selected for funding by Merck (PI: Davar) and the NIH (PI: Zarour; Co-I: Davar). Preliminary data suggesting efficacy of this approach was presented at CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference and AACR 2019.

To evaluate the additive role of TLR9 agonism to PD-1 blockade in melanoma, he designed and implemented a phase II neoadjuvant study of TLR9 agonist CMP-001 with PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab in high-risk resectable melanoma. Early results were promising and were presented as an Oral Presentation at the 34th Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Annual Meeting.

His research interests lie in translational cancer immunotherapy and designing novel clinical trials to address important scientific questions. He has developed protocols to study TIM-3/PD-1 co-blockade in operable melanoma prior to surgery (NCT04139902); TLR5 agonist and PD-1 blockade in high-risk resectable Merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma; TGF-b inhibitor vactosertib and PD-1 blockade in inflamed melanoma and other tumors (NCT pending).
Diwakar Davar