Amber J. Giles, Ph.D.

Amber J. Giles, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Team Member of:

Dr. Giles is a research fellow in immunotherapy section of the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB). She studies how the immune system responds to a brain tumor and is impacted by tumor-related treatments. She utilizes flow cytometry to profile the immune system in patients with brain cancer and correlates these findings with quantitative microscopy and transcriptome analyses. She also uses preclinical models and molecular biology to study the mechanisms that underlie an effective anti-tumor immune response. Her overall goal is to translate these findings into novel approaches to immune therapies in patients with brain tumors

Areas of Expertise
1) immunology and immune therapy 2) tumor microenvironment 3) stem cell niche biology 4) flow cytometry 5) pre-clinical animal models

Contact Info

Amber J. Giles, Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 37, Room 1142B
Bethesda, MD 20892
Ph: 240-760-6822
Fax: 301-480-4743

Our goal is to determine how to effectively utilize a patient’s own immune system to fight their brain tumor. In these patients, multiple challenges face lymphocytes, including the blood-brain barrier, the immune suppressive microenvironment of the brain tumor, and lymphopenia-inducing anti-tumor therapies. In addition, many brain tumors are “mutationally silent,” preventing effective immune recognition.

Our group seeks to identify those patients who will benefit from immune therapies. We are leading a highly collaborative effort to profile the immune system of patients enrolled in clinical trials. From these studies, we aim to establish a core immunologic panel to be used in multi-institutional clinical trials.

Our basic and translational research focuses on the immunologic interactions between brain tumors, the local tissue microenvironment, and the systemic immune response. We aim to enhancing immune therapies by 1) improving lymphocyte function and 2) making the tumor more susceptible to immune attack. We are interrogating components of the tumor microenvironment, such as immune modulating cells, hypoxia, and metabolic factors for their impact on immune function. We are also examining the mechanisms of immune depletion induced by corticosteroids and anti-cancer therapies. Finally, we are examining the epigenetic and molecular mechanisms employed by tumor cells to evade immune attack.

NIH Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Clinical Research, Immunology, Neuroscience, Stem Cell Biology

Selected Recent Publications

  1. Amber J. Giles, Marsha-Kay Hutchinson, Heather Sonnemann, Jinkyu Jung, Peter E. Fecci, Nivedita M. Ratnam, Wei Zhang, Hua Song, Rolanda Bailey, Dionne Davis, Caitlin Reid, Deric M. Park, Mark R. Gilbert
    Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. 6(1): 51, 2018. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Nivedita M. Ratnam, Mark R. Gilbert, Amber J. Giles
    Neuro-Oncology. 2018. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Amber J. Giles, Caitlin M. Reid, Justin D. Evans, Meera Murgai, Yorleny Vicioso, Steven L. Highfill, Miki Kasai, Linda Vahdat, Crystal L. Mackall, David Lyden, Leonard Wexler, Rosandra N. Kaplan.
    Cancer Res. 76(6): 1335-47, 2016. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Steven L. Highfill, Yongzhi Cui, Amber J. Giles, Jillian P. Smith, Hua Zhang, Elizabeth Morse, Rosandra N. Kaplan Crystal L. Mackall.
    Science Translational Med. 6: 237ra67, 2014. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Amber J. Giles, Christopher D. Chien, Caitlin M. Reid, Terry J. Fry, Deric M. Park, Rosandra N. Kaplan, Mark R. Gilbert
    Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 168: Elsevier 53-60, 2016. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Giles received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia while studying B cell development under the co-mentorship of Drs. Kodi Ravichandran and Timothy Bender. While at UVA she was also mentored in flow cytometry by Joanne Lannigan. She next studied the molecular mechanisms of type II diabetes disease progression at Boston Medical Center with Dr. Mengwei Zhang. She then joined a lab that combined her previous work in hematopoietic research and disease progression to investigate the role of bone marrow-derived stem and progenitor cells on tumor growth and metastatic progression. She worked for five years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health with Dr. Rosandra Kaplan. Dr. Giles now investigates the role of hematopoietic and stromal cells in brain tumor biology with a focus on tuning the tumor microenvironment to enhance anti-tumor immunity. She is a recipient of the NCI Directors Innovation Award.

Name Position
Marsha-Kay N.D Hutchinson B.S. Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Heather M. Sonnemann B.S. Postbaccalaureate Fellow