"Tumor cell death is not an endpoint, but the beginning of an immune response"
As an Immunologist and Clinical Pathologist, I have provided new insights into the immunologic consequences of cell death, leading to the emergence of new fields of research with vast medical implications. My curiosity has led me to establish a deep understanding of disease pathogenesis, with the ultimate goal of providing new diagnostic tools and novel approaches to support vaccine development and improved management of disease.
I began my medical education at Cornell University Medical College and The Rockefeller University, where I worked with mentors Drs. Nina Bhardwaj and Robert Darnell to solve a 25 year-old problem in immunology, which revealed a role for cell death in the initiation of anti-tumor and anti-viral T cell responses. I continued to explore this immunologic pathway as a group leader at the Institute Pasteur, where we gained new insights into immune regulation of viral hepatitis and bladder cancer. I have also participated in several taskforces, being the Immunologist member of the Chikungunya efforts led by Institut Pasteur after the 2005 outbreak in Southeast Asia.
Committed to public health but enthralled by the beauty inherent in the sometimes symbiotic – other times opportunistic – relationships in the natural world, in 2009 I initiated an effort to understand the determinants of a healthy immune system. Working in close partnership with Human Geneticist Lluis Quintana-Murci, we established the Milieu Intérieur Consortium [see www.milieuinterieur.fr/en]. Briefly, the objectives of the Milieu Intérieur project are to: establish a deep understanding of immune variance; define how immune phenotypic variation is genetically controlled and; ascertain the role of the microbiota and environmental triggers as regulators of immune programs. These efforts will establish parameters for stratifying individuals within a population, thus making it possible to glean meaningful interpretation from measurements of stress-induced host response. In achieving this goal, the project will provide a foundation for defining perturbations in an individual’s immune responses, thus laying the foundation for personalized medicine.
In an effort to scale this vision of ‘next-generation’ immune monitoring and contribute to the exciting field of Cancer Immunology, I am excited to have joined Genentech. Here, I aim to build a new approach to biomarker research, supporting numerous drug development programs, and helping to establish a cost-effective path for bringing new treatment modalities to the clinic.
I love to learn new things and push the boundaries of what can be learned through interdisciplinary research. While the core expertise of my laboratory is cellular immunology and physiology, being a postdoctoral mentor to biochemists, cell biologists and computational biologists permits me to share my passion for dendritic cell biology while pushing the envelope as to what we can learn about disease pathogenesis and health.
Science. 2015 Oct 16;350(6258):328-34.
Nat Immunol. 2015 Aug;16(8):850-8.
Our laboratory applies a “bedside-to-bench” approach to scientific discovery that ensures our team stays rooted in medically relevant questions, while striving to make new fundamental discoveries about tumor immunity and disease pathogenesis.
We maintain a strong commitment to the study of dead cells as a source of antigen for dendritic cell cross-presentation and cross-priming. We are also examining the mechanisms that control the trafficking of effector immune cells and in the context of cancer seem to limit lymphocyte entry into the tumor microenvironment. In addition to these scientific research goals, we are excited to transfer our insights into biomarkers for better understanding treatment response, always with an aim to identify new drug targets, thereby completing the circle “bench-to-bedside” and positively impacting the clinical management of cancer patients.