In This Section

A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Research Program

Immunology and Cancer

Program Leader: Thomas F. Gajewski, MD, PhD

The overall goals of the Immunology and Cancer Program, comprising 20 members (one of whom is a Howard Hughes investigator) from seven departments, are to understand the interface between the host immune system and malignant tumors, and to manipulate that interaction to promote immune-mediated tumor destruction in patients with cancer.

Although much of the immunotherapy field has moved forward quickly on the development of cancer vaccines, we maintain the view that it is important to explore the reasons for failure of the immune system to spontaneously reject most cancers from a more global perspective. Thus, in addition to optimizing T cell-based cancer therapeutics, the Immunology and Cancer Program’s objectives are based on the general perspective that understanding all definable aspects of the immune response against tumors will be vital for clinical success. These insights will be guided by continued study of fundamental aspects of immune regulation and, thus, a great degree of our effort lies in such basic immunologic studies.

The program's goals, therefore, span the following domains:

  • Fundamental investigations in immunology that have relevance to the cancer context;
  • Preclinical models of antitumor immunity; and
  • Translation of fundamental research discoveries into clinical studies of human antitumor immunity and novel immunotherapy clinical trials.

Observations made in studies of basic immunologic concepts direct the design of preclinical and clinical investigations, and observations made in early clinical studies have generated new hypotheses that are being addressed back in murine systems. Thus, the Immunology and Cancer Program has evolved into an important example of bidirectional translational research with ideas moving freely between bench and bedside.

Program Members:

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Erin Adams, PhD

Department of Medicine
Maria-Luisa Alegre, MD, PhD
Marcus Clark, MD
Bana Jabri, MD, PhD
Justin Kline, MD
Anne Sperling, PhD
Patrick Wilson, PhD, MS

Department of Microbiology
Tatyana Golovkina, PhD

Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology
Ursula Storb, MD

Department of Pathology
Albert Bendelac, MD, PhD
Yang-Xin Fu, MD, PhD
Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD
Seungmin Hwang, PhD
Vinay Kumar, MD, PhD
Peter Savage, PhD
Hans Schreiber, MD, PhD
Jerrold Turner, MD, PhD

Department of Pediatrics
James LaBelle, MD, PhD

Department of Surgery

Anita Chong, PhD
Maciej Lesniak, MD, MHCM