Jim Allison

If a whiskey-drinking Texan with a taste for outlaw country music and a 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine sounds more like a fictional character than an actual person, you haven’t heard of Jim Allison—even though his cutting-edge work in immunotherapy may have played a hand in saving the life of someone you love. Breakthrough takes an in-depth look at this modern-day hero, whose passion for curative medicine was ignited after his mother’s death from lymphoma when he was a child. The film follows Allison’s journey from his college days in the heart of Austin’s explosive 60s counterculture into barrooms (where he’s jammed on harmonica and sat in with Willie Nelson’s band) and across the country’s leading universities and research hospitals. As it shares the history of immunotherapy, from the not-so-distant past when it was essentially considered a pseudoscience through Allison’s game-changing development of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug, it hits upon the combination of ingenuity, drive, antiestablishment attitude, and personal sacrifice it can take to truly improve the human condition. 11/22-11/27: Fri 2 and 6:30 PM, Sat 5:15 PM, Sun 3 PM, Mon 7:45 PM, Tue 6 PM, Wed 7:45 PM at Gene Siskel Film Center