I am a physician-scientist, a medical oncologist, a neuro-oncologist, a tenured professor at the departments of neurosurgery, medicine, and immunology, and Deputy Director of the Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, Duke Cancer Institute, where we are tasked to speed up clinical research and translation for scientists across all departments and all tumor types at Duke, who have made discoveries that show promise for developing new immune and T cell-based therapies.
I lead a Tumor Immunobiology (TIL) Lab aiming to advance the field of cancer research through novel ideas and challenging the accepted paradigms. Using both wet and dry lab techniques, we aim to understand biologically relevant tumor-immune interactions and leverage them to identify therapeutic vulnerabilities to bring new therapies to patients. Our unique environment enables the translation of basic science discoveries to innovative clinical trials and accelerates the testing of new and effective therapies in cancer patients.
Areas of focus at the lab:
- Determine divergence in tumor cell signatures after interaction with the immune-neuronal microenvironment.
- Discern immunogenic glioma neoantigen-T cell receptor (TCR) pairs.
- Investigate brain tumor disruption of classical immune functions.
- Analyze biospecimens collected from patients on clinical trials to find prognostic and predictive biomarkers.
- Translate laboratory discoveries to surgical window of opportunity and other investigator-initiated clinical trials.
Examples of lab research initiatives
- To develop biologically relevant in vitro and in vivo models of human tumor and tumor microenvironment in parallel with dry lab technologies (bioinformatics) to answer important tumor and immune intrinsic questions.
- Integrate longitudinal human sample collection into multiple prospective protocols to answer pharmacological, immune, and biological questions.
- The Preclinical and clinical development of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) as a therapy for patients with CNS cancers.
- Design and test new methods to overcome the Blood Brain Barrier to deliver immunotherapies safely into brain tumors.