fluorescently stained tumor sample

Tumor Microenvironment and Cancer Immunology Program

Tumors create a niche environment to spread. The immune system can be guided to fight cancer.


Understanding how cells interact with each other and their environment to promote tumor growth is a key step in combating cancer. We explore how the immune system is altered to promote tumor growth, and how we can harness the immune system to fight back and kill cancer cells.

What is the focus of our program — what questions are we asking?

Research in this program aims to understand the molecular basis of how cells interact with each other and with the molecules in their environment, and how these processes promote tumor growth and metastasis. We also explore how the immune system is altered to promote tumor growth, and how tumor cells stimulate the production of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to gain access to nutrients and metastasize. This is the starting point for the identification of strategies to modify the tumor microenvironment to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.

How will our research help patients?

Our research has potential for the discovery of new cancer drugs with new mechanisms of action targeting the tumor microenvironment, as well as the possibility of safer and more effective ways to deliver cancer drugs to tumors while minimizing side effects.



Iizuka S, Abdullah C, Buschman MD, Diaz B, Courtneidge SA
Oncotarget 2016 Nov 29;7(48):78473-78486
Jellusova J, Rickert RC
Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol 2016 Sep;51(5):359-378
Tao L, Zhang J, Meraner P, Tovaglieri A, Wu X, Gerhard R, Zhang X, Stallcup WB, Miao J, He X, Hurdle JG, Breault DT, Brass AL, Dong M
Nature 2016 Oct 20;538(7625):350-355