Charles G. Drake received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University. After a brief career in circuit design, went on to study basic Immunology, and was awarded his PhD in Immunology from the National Jewish Center for Immunology in Denver, Colorado. As part of a joint degree program, he also received his MD from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. After completing an internal medicine residency on the Osler medicine service at Johns Hopkins, he completed a Fellowship in Medical Oncology. During this oncology fellowship, he began to investigate the immune response to prostate cancer, developing a unique mouse model to perform studies on specific immune cell tolerance to tumors. Experiments in this model supported the idea that androgen-ablation could mitigate tolerance to prostate cancer, creating a window during which tumor vaccination could prove successful (Cancer Cell 2005).
At the current time, Dr. Drake is the co-director of the Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic at Hopkins, where the combination of androgen-ablation and vaccination is being examined in a translational, pre-surgical trial. Using additional in vivo models, the Drake laboratory showed that the molecule LAG-3 is relatively over-expressed on non-functional T cells, and that LAG-3 blockade affects T cell function via both Treg dependent and Treg independent mechanisms (JCI 2007). More recently, the laboratory was able to show that blocking the immune checkpoints PD-1 and LAG-3 could prove synergistic in several in vivo cancer models. Ongoing work in the laboratory is focused on understanding the role of LAG-3 in regulatory T cell induction, as well as the regulation of immune checkpoint molecules and ligands in prostate and kidney cancer. In the clinic, Dr. Drake has initiated and directed several translational trials, focusing on cancer vaccines and on immune checkpoint blockade in genitourinary cancers.