"One of my favorite parts about working at Genentech has been seeing results from my own team’s analyzes being used to drive clinical decisions. The fulfillment of knowing you’re helping patients is so much greater than any paper acceptance."
While my experience with microbes began in the skin, at Genentech, I shifted my focus inward to our gut microbiome. As a scientist in Cancer Immunology, my group leverages clinical samples to understand how gut microbes impact systemic anti-tumor immunity and response to checkpoint inhibitors. By unlocking this new set of variables, we hope to discover new microbial biomarkers and unconventional targets for drug development.
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Nature 514 (7520), 59-64
Cell 165 (4), 854-866
Science translational medicine 9 (397)
Science 351 (6270), 224-226
In parallel to the traditional samples, i.e. tumor biopsies and peripheral blood, stool collections are rapidly being incorporated into our oncology clinical protocols as a means to characterize the gut microbiome. A newly appreciated biomarker for immunotherapy, the gut microbiome collectively refers to the diverse bacteria, fungi and viruses that colonize an individual’s gastrointestinal tract. Broadly my group aims to use these clinical stool samples to explore the role of microorganisms in cancer development, therapeutic response, and immune system activation.
To complement clinical collections, we have been leveraging a 1,000 person healthy control population to understand which factors influence the gut microbiome in the steady state and how the gut microbiome subsequently impacts systemic immune responses. In parallel, we are also interested in the role of microbes locally present in the tumor. To accomplish this, we are actively developing methods to reliably detect microbes in the tumor tissue and then correlating those microbial signatures with clinical metadata and tumor expression patterns.