Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program (CIIP)

Natural Killer Cell and Tumor CellThe mission of the CIIP is to reduce the burden of cancer by elucidating the basic mechanisms of interactions between the immune system and cancer, thus providing a scientific rationale for the design of new and more effective approaches for cancer treatment and prevention.

The mandate of the CIIP is to encourage, facilitate, and support the best research and training in cancer immunology and immunotherapy, to evaluate the therapeutic significance of basic findings from the laboratories of CIIP members through conducting translational pre-clinical studies, and to develop and implement clinical trials in cancer patients that translate the findings with the greatest therapeutic promise. Our efforts will be extended and strengthened through collaborations with other Hillman Programs and Centers, such as the Cancer Biology and Genome Stability Programs, and the UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center and the Mario Lemieux Immunotherapy Center.

CIIP research goals are to:

  1. Elucidate the basic mechanisms of the initiation and effector phases of tumor-specific immunity.
  2. Characterize the mechanisms of immune escape and immune exploitation.
  3. Develop clinically relevant animal models of cancer and human tumor models for the effective preclinical assessment of novel targets for immunoprevention and immunotherapy.
  4. Conduct clinical trials that evaluate the most promising immunotherapy strategies for cancer treatment and prevention developed at Hillman
  5. Define therapeutically relevant mechanisms of the anti-tumor immune response in preclinical tumor models and cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials.

CIIP members carry out their activities through three sub-programs that correspond to its central research themes:

  1. Inhibitory Mechanisms in the Tumor Microenvironment
  2. Stimulatory Mechanisms in the Tumor Microenvironment
  3. Cancer Immunotherapy

Research Themes

Cancer Immunotherapy

The focus of this research theme is to develop more effective ways to stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses to human tumors, to evaluate the efficacy of these therapeutic strategies in clinically relevant animal models of human cancer, to translate the most promising novel immunotherapies to cancer patients on clinical trials at Hillman, and to identify candidate immune biomarkers and state-of-the-art immunomonitoring assays to detect and understand therapeutically effective immune modulation.

Inhibitory Mechanisms in the TME

The focus of this research theme is to understand the complex interactions between components of the immune system and the tumor microenvironment, immunosuppression in tumor-bearing individuals, and escape of tumors from immunological control.

Stimulatory Mechanisms in the TME

The focus of this research theme is to better understand the mechanisms within the tumor microenvironment that promote a robust antitumor immune response.

See Program Members

Member Publications