Immunology Overview

Welcome to the Department of Immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The history of immunology at RPCI is a long and illustrious one:

  • The first scientific observation implicating immune responses against malignancies (1904)
  • Pioneering use of antibodies for cancer treatment (1954)
  • Demonstration of the anti-tumor immunomodulatory effects of chemotherapy (1960)
  • Defining the immunomodulatory mechanisms of fever range hyperthermia (1998)

The work of the Department is now focused on the increasingly complex interactions between tumors and the immune system.

Studies indicate that tumor-immune system interactions may yield results ranging from significant cancer suppression to actual facilitation of tumor growth and spread. Lack of an integrated understanding of these interactions is a significant barrier to developing effective immune-based approaches. However, this complexity also suggests that there are many novel, immune-based strategies to combat human malignancies in addition to “traditional” elicitation of anti-tumor immunity.

The goal of the Department’s research to understand and utilize the ability of the immune system to prevent, diagnose and treat human cancers. The scientific approach to achieve this goal is to:

  1. Characterize the specific interactions between tumor and immune cells that lead to tumor recognition and tumor rejection (or failure to do so)
  2. Define the broader host-tumor immune interactions that modulate tumor cell biology and the anti-cancer immune response
  3. Translate this understanding to clinical application to discover the mechanistic underpinnings of tumor-immune system interactions.

The research in the Department of Immunology runs the complete gamut from basic mechanisms of immune responses, through translational development of novel therapies, to clinical trials. In addition, the Department is highly committed to graduate education (Masters and PhD), and offers a highly interactive, multidisciplinary training program that includes a unique T32 training grant funded pre-doctoral training program in translational immunology.

Immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute has a rich tradition and a bright future – come see for yourself.

Apply to the Immunology Graduate Program