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Cancer Immunology Research Program

The Cancer Immunology Research Program at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center aims to identify how the immune system influences tumor growth and regression and then use this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic and preventive immuno-oncology strategies to treat cancer. The most promising discoveries are advanced to preclinical studies and, when appropriate, quickly moved into clinical trials. The process is an interactive one that involves close collaboration between the Cancer Immunology Research Program, the Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Research Program, and Hollings Cancer Center’s scientific community as a whole.

These goals are realized through a multi-level approach that includes monthly program meetings, program-specific seminars, transdisciplinary research teams, intramural funding and training opportunities, investments in existing and new shared resources, and targeted recruitment of faculty.

Program investigators have achieved key milestones in new areas of research, such as exposing the roles of T-cell metabolism and platelets in tumor immunity, and are beginning to understand distinctive immunological properties in ethnic and economically underserved populations in South Carolina. Collectively, the program consists of 20 basic and clinical scientist members drawn from seven departments within MUSC’s College of Medicine.

The three major themes and aims of the program are:

  • Immunotherapy: To develop innovative immunotherapeutic strategies to treat cancer patients.
  • Inflammation and tolerance: To define the role of inflammation in oncogenesis and to understand the mechanisms of tolerance.
  • T-cell biology: To reveal the mechanisms that govern T-cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity.

Program Co-Leaders

Shikhar Mehrotra 

Shikhar Mehrotra, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Surgery
College of Medicine

Academic Focus: T-cell signaling and metabolic pathways

Sophie Paczesny 

Sophie Paczesny, M.D., Ph.D.

Chairwoman – Department of Microbiology & Immunology
College of Medicine

Academic Focus: Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation

Featured Research

Dr. Sophie Paczesny stands at a counter in her lab and works with test tubes

Hollings researchers discover a new biomarker to prevent graft-versus-host disease following stem cell transplantation.