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, the UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center, and the Mario Lemieux Immunotherapy Center.

CIIP research goals are to:

  1. Define the basic regulatory mechanisms that promote anti-tumor immunity or facilitate tumor immune evasion
  2. Dissect the epigenetic, transcriptional and cellular geography of the tumor immune microenvironment to discover new immunotherapeutic targets and predictive biomarkers
  3. Develop and translate novel laboratory research findings into more effective immunotherapies for cancer treatment and prevention.

Research Themes

Immunoregulatory Mechanisms in Cancer

This research theme emphasizes (a) the inhibitory receptors (PD1, LAG3, TIM3, TGIT, NRP1), (b) regulatory T cells, (c) myeloid suppressive cells, and (d) novel pathway discovery. 

Modulators of the Tumor Immune Microenvironment

Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy members conceived of and direct the Tumor Microenvironment Center (TMC) to foster holistic projects that consider the multiple cellular and molecular interactions that occur within the tumor microenvironment, and to promote Hillman Cancer Center inter-programmatic collaborations. One of the goals of the TMC is to translate basic knowledge of the mechanisms of interaction between cancer cells and their microenvironment for the purpose of enhancing and accelerating direct patient-oriented interventions. Included in the microenvironment are the immune, inflammatory, and patient-specific factors that regulate cancer development, progression, and response to anti-cancer treatments. The TMC emphasizes (a) immune transcriptome and other systems immunological analyses, (b) the microbiome-immune-cancer axis; (c) immunometabolism in cancer; and (d) biomarker discovery.

Cancer Immunotherapies

The focus of this research theme is to develop more effective ways to (1) stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses to human tumors, (2) evaluate the efficacy of these therapeutic strategies in clinically relevant animal models of human cancer, (3) translate the most promising novel immunotherapies to cancer patients through clinical trials, and (4) identify candidate immune biomarkers and state-of-the-art immunomonitoring assays in order to detect and understand therapeutically effective immune modulation.

See Program Members

Member Publications