Our research centers on 1) deciphering the molecular mechanisms regulating anti-cancer immune responses, 2) exploiting knowledge to develop novel immunotherapies for treating cancer, and 3) translating these new cancer immunotherapies from bench to bedside. Our research also extends to studying immune regulation of other chronic diseases including infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
We have two active research directions:
1. Studying Molecular Control of Antitumor Immunity
We aim to dissect the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling immune surveillance and suppression in cancer. Specifically, we are interested in studying molecular control of functional interactions between innate immune cells (including dendritic cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, and neutrophils), T cells, and tumor cells in the tumor microenvironment. Based on these studies, we intend to identify new immune-checkpoint molecules that can serve as potential drug targets for developing next-generation cancer immunotherapies.
2. Developing Gene- and Cell-Based Cancer Immunotherapy
We aim to develop new gene- and cell-based adoptive immunotherapies for treating cancer. Our strategies include genetically engineering immune cells to grant them cancer-targeting specificity (e.g. through delivering genes encoding tumor-antigen, TCR, or CAR) or/and enhanced cancer-fighting capacity (e.g. through delivering/disrupting genes encoding immune-checkpoint molecules). A special interest of the lab is to develop hematopoietic stem cell-engineered iNKT cell (HSC-iNKT) adoptive therapy, that aims to provide patients with a life-long supply of potent cancer-targeting iNKT cells.