Christopher Haqq’s father taught him how to build volcanoes in their backyard. He was a beloved chemistry teacher for 30 years who inspired many students, Haqq says, and sent him down a path through volcanoes and up into oncology.
And then last year, darkly, tenderly, his father touched him again, in the way it seems many cancer researchers are touched – Jim Allison and his mother, William Kaelin and his wife – perhaps because of some compassion principle at the heart of science, or perhaps simply by coincidence, because the disease is so pervasive and we’re all touched and it feels just, maybe, or poetic to think someone is able to do something in return. Haqq’s 87-year-old father was diagnosed with colon cancer, a RAS mutant strain. Fatally, the mutation spread cancer to his brain.
Christopher Haqq is now joining Elicio as its new R&D chief, overseeing the development of, among other things, their RAS-targeting immunotherapy. RAS mutations, which are now after 40 years of research becoming a prime target for experimental therapies, are present in about 30% of cancers, including 45% of colon cancers and nearly all pancreatic cancers.