The William Decker Lab's research focuses on the application of dendritic cells in immunotherapies against cancer. Immune evasion is a hallmark of cancer and learning how dendritic cells prime anti cancer responses is pivotal to harnessing their therapeutic potential. We utilize various research methods to understand how dendritic cells regulate gene expression, use critical molecules to instruct the immune system, prime other immune cells like cytotoxic T cells, and strategies to overcome the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most powerful antigen presenting cell of the immune system and bridge the gap between the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. The capacity of DCs to mount anti-cancer responses is what our research is interested in. Our DC vaccines are based on a method of ex vivo loading of cancer antigens onto autologous DCs and injection of the vaccine into the recipient to generate CD8+ cytotoxic T cells capable of generating cancer regression and immunity in various animal models and various cancer types. DCs have an important set of checks and balances that they use to maintain immune homeostasis, our research tries to understand how these checks and balances are regulated and expressed to drive DC immunity.
The lab is located at Baylor College of Medicine in the heart of the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Our Lab is part of the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The close proximity to MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston Methodist, Rice University, and many other institutions means this is a great place for collaboration across the medical center. Our lab is comprised of graduate students, post-bac students, M.D .Fellows, lab managers, and an assistant professor along with our PI. The lab is a diverse, welcoming environment and is always looking for enthusiastic scientists and collaborators.