The 26th annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer took place in Bethesda on November 4 to 6, 2011 and was organized by Charles G. Drake ( Johns Hopkins University) Dolores J. Schendel ( Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Center for Environmental Health Institute of Molecular Immunology) , Jeffrey Schlom ( National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health), and Jedd D. Wolchok ( Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center). It was an event marked by a number of extraordinary circumstances: it attracted a record attendance of 805 participants from 24 different countries. The gathering came in the wake of great as well as very sad news for the tumor immunology community. Good news included the approval of anti-CTLA-4 as a therapy for metastatic melanoma in April and the announcement in early October of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine awarded to pioneering studies in the field of immunology. Indeed, one part of the prize went to Dr. Bruce Beutler, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA and Dr. Jules Hoffman, Institute for Molecular Cell Biology, Strasbourg, France, for their discoveries in innate immunity and the other part to Dr. Ralph Steinman, The Rockfeller University, New York, for his discovery of dendritic cells. Sad news was the losses of two giants in the field. Jürg Tschopp of the University of Lausanne in March and Ralph Steinman, who passed away just three days before his Nobel Prize announcement. The loss of these two charismatic scientific leaders was particularly sad for the Annual Meeting as both J. Tschopp and R. Steinman were confirmed speakers at this meeting: the former to deliver the keynote lecture and the latter as recipient of the Richard V. Smalley prize.