Dr. Renier Brentjens '85 named Roswell Park deputy director, chair of medicine

Keith McShea

Dr. Renier Brentjens '85 has come back to Buffalo for "the opportunity of a lifetime." 

Brentjens has been named the Deputy Director and Chair of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Roswell Park describes Brentjens as "one of the most influential and accomplished figures in the field of cancer immunotherapy."

Brentjens, a native of the Netherlands who was raised in Buffalo and earned a master’s degree and dual MD/PhD in microbiology at the University at Buffalo after attending Canisius, will join Roswell Park in September. 

Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson called Brentjens "both an amazing physician and a research star."

"We couldn’t be more excited to welcome him back to Buffalo," Johnson said. "His achievements in cellular therapy have helped drive major shifts in how we treat many cancers today, and make an outstanding pairing with our own innovations in immunotherapy and cell-based therapy."

"Coming to Roswell Park in these roles is the opportunity of a lifetime," said Brentjens, who is a passionate Buffalo sports fan and classic car enthusiast.

"What has impressed me most are the totally original concepts for vaccines and cellular therapies coming from Roswell Park that no one else has come up with yet," Brentjens said. "Our goal is to achieve cures, long-term remissions and excellent quality of life for a lot more patients, and the teams at Roswell Park are going to be an incredible crew to move that vision forward."

Brentjens comes to Roswell Park from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he served as Director of Cellular Therapeutics and Associate Chair for Junior Faculty Development in the Department of Medicine.

"This is a time of tremendous hope and promise," said Brentjens, one of a small group of researchers who helped to develop the first FDA-approved cellular therapies to incorporate adoptive cell transfer — an approach known as CAR T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) therapy. 

Brentjens' work both in the lab and in clinical trials helped establish CAR T as a cancer treatment option. With CAR T, a patient’s immune cells are removed, re-engineered to fight cancer more effectively and reinfused to bolster the immune system’s response to cancer.

"Cellular therapy is in its infancy, but it’s already dramatically reshaping what we can achieve through cancer therapy," he said.

"We’re starting to master our ability to help the immune system, our own cells, help itself. I’m incredibly excited about the work this Roswell Park team is going to do in the next few years — the time we are going to be able to give back to patients with even advanced cancers, the cures that are within our reach today."

At Roswell Park, Brentjens will serve as Deputy Director, The Katherine Anne Gioia Endowed Chair in Cancer Medicine, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Oncology in the Departments of Medicine and Immunology.

From left: Canisius High School Board of Trustees member Anne Gioia, Dr. Renier Brentjens, Dr. Candace Johnson and Donna Gioia at the announcement welcoming Dr. Brentjens to Roswell Park. 

Anne Gioia, a member of Canisius High School Board of Trustees, and Donna Gioia created the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation 25 years ago after Anne’s daughter Katherine, the namesake of Dr. Brentjens’ endowment, passed away at 5 years old after a battle with a very rare cancer.

"Their goal was to make sure that families affected by cancer have hope – have options and compassion and support as they battle something so difficult," said Johnson. "Their generosity and their example of how to work hard to create a resource that will keep giving back to our community has been incredible, and continues through their support of the important work that Dr. Brentjens now leads at Roswell Park. Anne and Donna, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your passionate fight on behalf of families affected by cancer."

Luke LoTempio '22 named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist

Luke LoTempio '22 has been named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. 

The semifinalists were announced Wednesday by the National Merit Scholarship Company, and the 16,000 who are being honored represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.  

"Being selected as a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program is a reflection of the effort I have put into my work," said LoTempio. "It reminds me to continue to do my best."

Dr. Renier Brentjens '85 named Roswell Park deputy director, chair of medicine

Dr. Renier Brentjens '85 has come back to Buffalo for "the opportunity of a lifetime." 

Brentjens has been named the Deputy Director and Chair of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Roswell Park describes Brentjens as "one of the most influential and accomplished figures in the field of cancer immunotherapy."

Matthew Cady named Canisius cross country/track coach

Matthew Cady is joining Canisius High School as the new head coach for cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

Cady brings a wealth of academic and athletic experience to Canisius, where he will also be a physical education and health teacher.

Cady, who has a doctorate from Penn State, competed at Syracuse University in both cross country and track for four years before going on to coach both sports at the University of Pittsburgh for two years.

Two Jesuit novices who worked at CHS profess first vows

Two Jesuit novices who spent a year at Canisius High School prior to their novitiate pronounced their first vows this past weekend. 

Christian Zombek, SJ, and Mario Verde, SJ, professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience Saturday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. They were two of five men in the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus to end their time as novices and officially become Jesuit scholastics. 

At Canisius, Zombek and Verde worked with teachers, helped with service projects and traveled to retreats during the 2019-20 academic year.

First page of the PDF file: longestbasketball

Nine different Canisius High School alumni representing five different graduating classes were part of a basketball world record set this week in Buffalo.

The former Crusaders were part of teams that played round-the-clock basketball across six days at Nardin Academy, setting a world record in an event titled “The World’s Longest Basketball Game.”

The game, which included a mix of men and women among its 23 players, was held from August 6-11, setting a new record of 120 hours, 2 minutes.

Canisius principal Tyrpak-Endres again a Power 200 Women pick

For the third straight year, Canisius High School principal and executive vice president Andrea Tyrpak-Endres has been named one of Western New York’s most talented and influential women.

Tyrpak-Endres, who is entering her seventh year as principal at Canisius, was named this week to Buffalo Business First’s 2021 list of Power 200 Women.

She is No. 119 on the list, in which reporters and editors at Buffalo Business First rank “a group whose talent and influence fuel economic, social and cultural growth.”

World-class rower Nathaniel Sass '19 named assistant coach

Nathaniel Sass ’19 began rowing his freshman year at Canisius. This summer, he was on the United States national team. 

Sass will share his experience of becoming a world-class rower with the current Canisius team as he joins the program as an assistant coach for the 2021-22 season. 

“It’s not often your fastest current alum is able to coach your current team members,” said Canisius head rowing coach RJ Rubino.

Higher Achievement Program concludes

The 2021 Canisius High School Higher Achievement Program wrapped up Friday, giving rising eighth graders from all over Western New York an experience to remember.

The four-week program concluded with an awards ceremony to recognize HAP participants achievements in academics, athletics, and service.

Austin Xiao earned the Mr. HAP award, the summer camp’s top prize.

First page of the PDF file: McShea

Canisius High School is pleased to announce Keith McShea as the new Director of Communications, effective August 9.

An experienced communications leader, McShea comes to Canisius High School from The Buffalo News where he served as news staff reporter, breaking news and criminal justice team reporter, and deputy sports editor for more than 20 years.  He has also taught the next generation of journalists at The State University of New York at Buffalo and Medaille College.