The CIO Translational Research area functions as a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary translational research programmatic effort with the goal of developing novel immunotherapies and immunotherapeutic strategies for cancer. Focus is placed on the development of novel immunotherapeutics, not only as monotherapies, but more importantly, in combination with other immune-mediating modalities, and other conventional or experimental therapies, as part of an immuno-oncology programmatic effort. Within this effort are several research groups which interact closely with the clinical groups of the CIO, and with collaborators within the NCI intramural and extramural programs, and with investigators in the private sector. As Co-Director of the CIO, Dr. Jeffrey Schlom directs the Translational Research area of investigation with Dr. James Hodge as Deputy Director for Translational Research.
Immunotherapeutics Section: Dr. James Hodge (Senior Investigator, Section Head). This group investigates how combination immunotherapies and non-immune–based therapies affect tumor cells and specific components of the immune system. These studies form the rationale for novel immune- and non-immune-based combination clinical trials.
Tumor Immunoregulation Section: Dr. Claudia Palena (Senior Investigator, Section Head). This group investigates mechanisms of tumor progression, including mechanisms of metastasis and tumor resistance to therapies, and how immune-based therapies can be employed as therapeutics directed against such tumor-cell phenotypes.
Molecular Immunology Group: Dr. Sofia Gameiro (Staff Scientist, Group Head). This group examines how emerging therapeutics can modulate the immune system to exert potent antitumor activity, with particular emphasis on how the mechanisms involved can be exploited to maximize antitumor activity in combination regimens with novel immunotherapies and other anticancer modalities.
Vaccine Group: Dr. Caroline Jochems Frohlich (Staff Scientist, Group Head). This group is involved in studies to identify and modify tumor-associated antigens and new vaccine platforms to enhance their immunogenicity in cancer patients in vaccine-mediated immunotherapy. The group is also involved in studies of vaccines in combination with immune modifiers.
Immunomodulation Group: Dr. Duane Hamilton (Staff Scientist, Group Head). This group focuses on the identification and characterization of tumor-specific neoepitopes and their use in combination therapies. This group is also involved in the genetic modification to tumor cells to identify mechanisms of action of specific immunotherapeutic agents.
Cellular Immunology Group: Dr. Renee Donahue (Staff Scientist, Group Head). This group interrogates the human immunome of patients prior to immunotherapy and at various times in the immunotherapeutic regimen. Analyses include soluble factors, immune cell subset phenotype and functional assays, and responses to tumor-specific and tumor-associated antigens to help define mechanisms of action and correlates with patient clinical responses.
Animal Protocols Facility: Dr. John Greiner (Staff Scientist), Robin Riley (Facilities Manager). This group is responsible for the assessment and oversight of the Center for Immuno-Oncology (CIO) Animal Care & Use Program components, compliance required by the NCI-ACUC guidelines, AALAC accreditation and facilities, including the review and approval of animal research protocols, evaluation of animal use and housing areas, monitoring and evaluation of animal use practices, review and approval of policies and standards for animal care and use, and investigation of animal welfare concerns. Additionally, the group is responsible for the management of several mouse colonies, which include transgenic mice and mice harboring genetic mutations, that results in the development of spontaneous tumors to be made available to many investigators within the CIO for preclinical studies.