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Nicole Scheff

Nicole Scheff

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-623-7871 Hillman Cancer Center Research Pavilion
5117 Centre Ave, Suite 1.19F
Pittsburgh PA

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) causes severe pain, increased stress, and reduced quality of life, which exceeds the levels seen in other cancers. Development of improved non-opioid therapies will likely be hastened with an increased understanding of underlying mechanisms driving cancer pain. Beyond sensory/pain signaling, the peripheral nervous system has been identified as a component of the cancer microenvironment and may be involved in modulating tumor progression and tumor-associated immunity. The cancer microenvironment is comprised of stromal cells, glial cells, immune cells, neurons (e.g., motor, sensory, sympathetic) and proliferating tumor cells. The Scheff lab seeks to integrate the neurobiology, cancer biology, and immunology fields in order to fully appreciate neural-immune-cancer communication. The goal of our research is to understand plasticity in peripheral neurons associated with cancer and to investigate whether therapy targeted to neurons in the cancer microenvironment can alleviate pain and slow carcinogenesis. The lab executes translational research through collection of patient-reported outcomes and clinical specimens as well as implementation of molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral studies in preclinical mouse models.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • cancer neurobiology
  • cancer-related pain
  • head and neck cancer
  • neuro-immune interactions
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