Our research group focuses on understanding how cancer and cancer therapies interact with the immune system, and translating these insights into novel therapies for patients with head and neck cancer, melanoma, and other cancer types.

A related topic of investigation is understanding the unique biology of viral (HPV-related) and non-viral (tobacco/alcohol-related) head and neck cancers, and exploiting this information to develop biomarkers of cancer risk, prognosis and treatment response.

Key Research Questions

  • What are the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which cancer-induced inflammation leads to immunosuppression and cancer immune escape?
  • What is the impact of standard therapies – such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy – on anti-tumor immunity and response to immunotherapies?
  • How can we use information about changes in the genomic, metabolic, and immunological profile of patients and their tumors to select the therapies most effective for their cancer?

To answer these questions we perform studies in mouse- and chick egg-based model tumor systems; human cell and cell-line culture experiments; studies of patient samples collected before and after treatment; and clinical trials with new immune-based therapies.