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Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy PhD Program

The Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Major trains scientists who aspire to become the next generation of tumor immunologists. This includes those seeking to become independent investigators in an academic environment, as well as those interested in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry, science education, or public policy. Students will receive interdisciplinary training in immunology and the broader field of cancer biology through coursework and immersion in the Moffitt Cancer Center’s research endeavors. Students will train alongside individuals studying other areas of cancer biology, providing a broad base of understanding of cancer and increasing the potential for interdisciplinary research. Graduates of this major will be positioned to enter the technological workforce ready to discover and implement immunological advances that will have a key impact on cancer patient therapy. 

The study of tumor immunology has led to major advances in the understanding of how tumors evade the immune system, resulting in multiple new immunotherapeutic modalities approved by the FDA for the treatment of cancer patients. Students will have the opportunity to conduct innovative research at the molecular and cellular level to reveal opportunities to alter the course of tumor progression. This Major provides students a unique foundation of knowledge and practical experience in the rapidly advancing arena of cancer immunotherapy. Students will work with basic, translational, and clinical immunologists focused on elucidating mechanisms driving immune recognition of cancer cells, targetable mechanisms of immunosuppression, and development of immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer. Through these close collaborations novel findings can be quickly translated into the clinic. Moffitt’s state-of-the-art Cell Therapies Facility is one of the few in the nation to offer novel cell-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, including adoptive cell therapy with TILs and CAR T cells. 

Research drives discoveries in cancer immunology through basic and translational research in five areas:

  • Tumor Immune Microenvironment (innate and adaptive regulatory mechanisms)
  • Immune Regulation in Cancer (metabolism, T cell checkpoints)
  • Vaccine-Based Therapies (Dendritic Cells, intralesional therapies)
  • Adoptive T Cell Therapy (TIL, CAR)
  • Hematological Diseases (MDS, graft-vs-host)

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