Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Faculty
Daniel Abate-Daga, PhD
Dr. Abate-Daga's research is focused on the development of T cell-based immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, and the translation of those preclinical findings into clinical application.
Dorina Avram, PhD
Avram lab investigates transcriptional and epigenetic regulators that dictate the programs of tumor infiltrating T lymphocytes (TILs). Through complex manipulations of these decision factors, the goal is to reach a state in which the stemness, residency and effector programs of TILs are maintained, but exhaustion is blocked. Such a state will make the TILs resistant to the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. We use patient derived samples, genetically engineered mouse models, along with state of the art molecular methodologies, including transcriptomics (bulk and scRNAseq), epigenomics, CRISPR-genome editing, multiplex immunofluorescence and spatial transcriptomics. We hope that our studies will lead to technologies that improve adoptive cell therapies with TILs, as well as CAR-T cell behavior in solid tumors. Additional research interests in Avram Lab include ubiquitination in inflammation and cancer, with the goal of harnessing the immune responses for cancer therapies
Amer A. Beg, PhD
The Beg laboratory is interested in developing new strategies aimed at modulating the tumor microenvironment to increase tumor immunogenicity and response to therapeutics. Through both laboratory and clinical trial studies, ongoing projects aim to modulate activity of epigenetic and cytokine pathways to enhance immunological control of lung cancer. The Beg laboratory is also developing novel oncolytic virus strategies to generate potent anti-tumor T cell responses that can turn immune “cold” to “hot” tumors capable of responding to checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapeutics.
Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD
Dr. Brian Czerniecki's research interests focus on dendritic cell biology and interactions with T cells. He has developed dendritic cell vaccines for the treatment of cancer. He is involved with several clinical trials for treating patients with early breast cancer with dendritic cell vaccines. Dr. Czerniecki’s research goal is the development of vaccines for the prevention of breast and other solid-tumor cancers. Toward that end, he is working on identifying molecular targets in early breast cancer that can be used to prevent invasion and metastasis. Dr. Czerniecki has more than 100 publications and is recognized nationally for his contribution to the development of sentinel lymph node mapping, a procedure for determining the spread of cancer into lymph nodes that is less invasive than diagnostic surgery.
Jose Alejandro Guevara, MD, PhD - Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Major Director
Dr. Guevara's laboratory primarily aims to investigate and manipulate tumor-reactive T cells, with the long-term goal of developing immunologically based therapeutic approaches against cancer. Our research focus areas include: 1) Examining the role of rpS6 in the development of anti-tumor tissue resident memory T cells (Trm). 2) Assessing the impact of hypoxia on anti-tumor T cells to understand its effects on functionality and longevity. 3) Innovating in Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) by modifying CAR architecture and reducing CAR-T cell exhaustion through NK receptor-based signaling. 4) Identifying and validating immunological biomarkers for predicting or monitoring the response to immunotherapy. 5) Focusing on direct clinical interventions specifically designed to restore the anti-tumor effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Michael Jain, MD, PhD
Dr. Michael Jain’s clinical interests focus on treatment modalities for relapsed lymphoma, particularly stem cell transplantation and cellular and immunotherapies. His research interests include translational research in lymphoma and early-phase clinical trials.
Vince Luca, PhD
The Luca Lab studies how immune receptors can be reprogrammed to enhance antitumor responses. Tumors evade the immune system by hijacking inhibitory “off-switch” receptors in immune cells. To counteract this process, the Luca Lab is engineering synthetic ligands that can reinvigorate T cell function. These customizable signaling proteins currently being used to increase proliferation, guide differentiation, or promote tumor killing function in various cancer models.
John E. Mullinax, MD, FACS
Dr. Mullinax is a physician-scientist in the Sarcoma Department and Immunology program. He conducts clinical trials of adoptive cell therapy in patients with advanced sarcoma and his laboratory effort is focused on the T-cell infiltrate in soft tissue sarcoma with the goal of enhancing cellular immunotherapy strategies for patients with advanced sarcoma.
Shari A. Pilon-Thomas, PhD
A major goal of Dr. Pilon-Thomas’ research is to investigate approaches that overcome melanoma-mediated T cell suppression. Much of the research centers on the anti-melanoma activity of combined lymphopenia and immunotherapy.
Javier Pinilla-Ibarz, MD, PhD
My clinical interest is in the area of chronic leukemias with special interest in chronic myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphoid leukemias. Our laboratory is interested in implementing new immunotherapeutic strategies in the field of malignant hematology. The major focus of the lab has been on developing immunotherapeutic approaches for acute and chronic leukemias as well as MDS.
Paulo Rodriguez, PhD
The long-term goal of Dr. Rodriguez’s research is to develop innovative strategies that restore protective immunity in cancer, leading to long lasting anti-tumor effector responses, through targeting primary mechanisms regulating immunosuppressive pathological myelopoiesis and signals driving T cell dysfunction in tumors.
Brian Ruffell, PhD
The Ruffell Lab is interested in the mechanisms by which dendritic cells and macrophages regulate response to cytotoxic, targeted, and immune therapies, with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets that can promote anti-tumor immunity. The lab is particularly focused on hormone-driven malignancies that have proven highly resistant to immune modulation.
Timothy Shaw, PhD
Dr. Shaw's research focuses on systems immuno-oncology, particularly in developing computational tools to study immune interactions and associated regulatory networks. My program consists of the following three projects: 1) Building an integrative regulatory network of cancer-to-immune interactions and immune suppression. 2) Identifying targetable regulators from genetic screening. 3) Using a proteo-genomics approach to identify cancer-specific isoforms for immunotherapy. My program will build a comprehensive resource of the immune regulators and cancer, leveraging multi-omics information, with a particular interest in alternative splicing, gene activity estimation, surfaceome proteomics, and protein-protein interactions. Such an integrative approach presents opportunities to identify druggable targets that enhance immunotherapy response or novel targets for immunotherapy.
Filippo Veglia, PhD
Dr. Veglia’s research interest is to investigate metabolic and molecular mechanisms of immune response to cancers. His current research efforts are focused on the study of the role of myeloid cells in thwarting immune and therapeutic responses to brain cancers. His research is also focused on the design of novel strategies for the therapeutic targeting of myeloid cells.
Kenneth L. Wright, PhD
Dr. Wright’s laboratory is focused on two transcription factors, CIITA and PRDI-BF1. CIITA is a transcriptional activator and master regulator of the MHC Class II family of antigen presentation genes. PRDI-BF1 is a transcriptional repressor that silences CIITA and promotes terminal differentiation of immune cells.