In order for the immune system to function properly, it must be tightly regulated. Failure to do so can result in excessive or misdirected mobilization of the immune system’s destructive power causing unnecessary collateral damage of healthy tissues or autoimmunity, respectively. A number of regulatory cells and mechanisms work to restrain and control immune activation. However, these safeguards can oppose the mounting of robust anti-tumor immune responses and limit the benefits of anti-cancer immunotherapies.
My lab is investigating the cell types (e.g. Regulatory T cells) and the processes (e.g. signaling pathways) capable of controlling the immune system with an emphasis on unappreciated factors capable of up- or down-modulating their important suppressive functions. By advancing our understanding of how certain environmental cues, inflammatory stresses, and metabolic products influence the mechanisms of immune regulation we will reveal new targets for future immunotherapies aimed at manipulating the immune response.