Research & Publications
Tumors exist within a complex tumor microenvironment that develops during the course of disease, but very little is known about how the microenvironment develops, or how the cells within the microenvironment impact the outcome of disease. This is particularly true of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, which co-exist with tumor cells throughout development. Many immune cells in the tumor microenvironment (and in particular T cells that recognize tumor cells) are non-functional, although it remains unclear why or how they reached this state. Immunotherapies that can improve anti-tumor T cell function have demonstrated the remarkable ability to cause sustained tumor regression and extend the lifespans of some patients with advanced cancers for years. These results highlight the potential of immunotherapeutics, but expanding their benefits to most cancer patients will require a better understanding of how the tumor microenvironment impacts immune cell function, and how the microenvironment associated with advanced tumors developed during disease. My laboratory uses and develops complex genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) of cancer, with the aim of investigating these questions. We primarily focus on how cells of the immune system help shape the tumor microenvironment during disease development and how the tumor microenvironments associated with different cancer types affect anti-tumor T cells. The overall goal of our work is to identify key molecular mechanisms that contribute to disease progression and immune dysfunction and to target these mechanisms to improve disease outcomes for patients with advanced cancers.
Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte; Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung; T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer; Immunotherapy; Oncogenes; T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic; Genes, Tumor Suppressor; T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory; Tumor Microenvironment
Public Health Interests