The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Departments of Melanoma Medical Oncology/Immunology
My laboratory is focused on two distinct aspects of tumor immunology. The first project involves characterizing immune regulatory cells and mechanisms that are predominant within melanoma tumor and draining lymph node microenvironments of patients at various stages of disease. These studies will aim to identify the types of immune regulation that are most important in melanoma, with an eye towards attenuating or eliminating these mechanisms in future clinical endeavors. Specific activating mutations in the BRAF kinase gene are found in approximately two-thirds of human melanomas. We are currently using lentiviral gene delivery systems and broad-based screening approaches to investigate the hypothesis that constitutive BRAF signaling leads directly to the expression of immunosuppressive factors in human melanoma.
In the second project, my laboratory is studying the process of tumor antigen cross-presentation by dendritic cells (DC). We are particularly interested in characterizing the changes in MHC class I trafficking and antigen processing following DC activation by toll-like receptor ligands or other activation stimuli. This project has both basic and applied aspects, in that gaining a better understanding of DC cross-presentation will not only help to shed light on unknown aspects of DC biology, but will hopefully provide useful concepts on which to base the next generation of DC-based cancer vaccines.
Depending on the student’s interests, a tutorial in my laboratory would provide experience with basic immunology, antigen presentation, dendritic cell biology, molecular trafficking, immunosuppression, and cancer vaccines.
Education & Training
Ph.D. - University of British Columbia - 2000