Skip to main contentBack to Top

Researchers in the Cancer Immunology, Inflammation and Tolerance program use a range of techniques to study how the immune system influences tumorigenesis and cancer therapy. The immune system can inhibit or promote tumor progression in local tissues where pre-malignancies form. Major program themes are to elucidate

  • How pre-malignancies create and sustain local immunologic tolerance necessary for tumor formation
  • How to destroy local tolerance that protects tumors from natural and vaccine-induced anti-tumor immunity.

The scientific rationale for this dual approach is that pre-malignant cells create and sustain tolerance during tumor progression, while breaking tumor-associated tolerance is necessary for successful anti-tumor treatment. Hence, program goals are to elucidate molecular and cellular pathways at sites of inflammation that promote or break immune tolerance using pre-clinical mouse models of tumor progression and autoimmune syndromes, and developing novel immunotherapies to treat these syndromes more effectively by targeting tolerance pathways. To this end, program faculty also engage in promoting pre-clinical research and early-phase clinical trials of novel vaccine adjuvants to improve cancer immunotherapy, in some cases with corporate partners.

To pursue these focused research themes and scientific goals, program faculty employ many state-of-the-art techniques, facilities, and unique resources, including flow cytometric sorting and analysis, a range of molecular imaging techniques, genomic analysis, and genetically modified mouse strains. Future program development will build on existing CIT program strengths by recruiting new investigators with expertise in inflammation, immunological, and metabolic research to complement current research focused on regulation of adaptive immunity.

Program Members

photo of Jennifer W. Bradford, PhD

Jennifer W. Bradford, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
photo of Yan Cui, PhD

Yan Cui, PhD

  • Professor
photo of Yukai He, MD, PhD

Yukai He, MD, PhD

  • Professor
photo of Theodore S. Johnson, MD, PhD

Theodore S. Johnson, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor
photo of Zoya C. Kurago, DDS, PhD

Zoya C. Kurago, DDS, PhD

  • Associate Professor
photo of Kebin Liu, PhD

Kebin Liu, PhD

  • Professor
photo of Santhakumar Manicassamy, PhD

Santhakumar Manicassamy, PhD

  • Associate Professor
photo of David Munn, MD

David Munn, MD

  • Professor
photo of Nagendra Singh, PhD

Nagendra Singh, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
photo of Gang Zhou, PhD

Gang Zhou, PhD

  • Associate Professor

Cancer Research News

Doctor at computer

Structural framework for tumors also provides immune protection

Aggressive colorectal cancers set up an interactive network of checkpoints to keep the immune system at bay, scientists report.

Man with big block of ice

Sydenstricker’s blood transfusion research a century ago led to modern methods of tissue banking

In the early part of the last century, blood transfusions occurred directly from the donor to patient. Virgil Sydenstricker found a better way, and it's still in use today.

man sitting next to computer

National veteran dataset will help dissect mental illness, prostate cancer connections

There appears to be an unhealthy synergy between mental illness and prostate cancer, and researchers are working to dissect the relationship by first assembling the largest dataset ever of veterans with either condition or both.

three people in lab

Standard pathology tests outperform molecular subtyping in bladder cancer

While trying to develop a comparatively easy, inexpensive way to give physicians and their patients with bladder cancer a better idea of likely outcome and best treatment options, scientists found that sophisticated new subtyping techniques designed to do this provide no better information than long-standing pathology tests.