Claudia M. Palena, Ph.D.

Claudia M. Palena, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Center for Immuno-Oncology


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.

Dr. Palena’s research focuses on the immunological targeting of drivers of tumor metastasis and resistance to therapy. Her recent studies on a novel tumor-associated antigen, the transcription factor brachyury, have led to the rapid translation of 3 cancer vaccine platforms targeting a driver of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a process associated with cancer progression, from basic discovery to Phase I and II clinical studies. As the Head of the Tumor Immunoregulation Section, Dr. Palena continues to investigate innovative immunotherapeutic approaches that may be used in combination with other anti-neoplastic agents to generate anti-tumor immune responses that could alleviate metastatic disease in cancer patients.

Areas of Expertise

Tumor Immunology
Cancer Vaccines


Selected Recent Publications

An Interleukin-15 superagonist enables antitumor efficacy of natural killer cells against all molecular variants of SCLC

Fousek K, Horn LA, Qin H, Dahut M, Iida M, Yacubovich D, Hamilton DH, Thomas, MD A, Schlom J, Palena C
J Thorac Oncol. 18(3): 350-68, 2023.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Remodeling the tumor microenvironment via blockade of LAIR-1 and TGF-beta signaling enables PD-L1-mediated tumor eradication

Horn LA, Chariou PL, Gameiro SR, Qin H, Iida M, Fousek K, Meyer TJ, Cam M, Flies D, Langermann S, Schlom J, and Palena C.
J Clin Invest. 132(8): e155148, 2022.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Interleukin-8: a chemokine at the intersection of cancer plasticity, angiogenesis, and immune suppression

Fousek K, Horn LA, Palena C.
Pharmacol Ther. 219: 107692, 2021.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Simultaneous inhibition of CXCR1/2, TGF-β, and PD-L1 remodels the tumor and its microenvironment to drive antitumor immunity

Horn LA, Riskin J, Hempel HA, Fousek K, Lind H, Hamilton DH, McCampbell KK, Maeda DY, Zebala JA, Su Z, Schlom J, Palena C.
J Immunother Cancer. 8(1): e000326, 2020.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Tumor plasticity and resistance to immunotherapy

Horn LA, Fousek K, Palena C.
Trends Cancer. 6(5): 432-41, 2020.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

We have no open positions in our group at this time, please check back later.

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Shantel M. Angstadt
Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA; iCURE program)
Shantel M. Angstadt, Ph.D.
Kristen Fousek
Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Kristen Fousek, Ph.D.
Nicole Hsaio-Sanchez
Post-baccalaureate Fellow
Nicole Hsiao-Sanchez
Marcus D. Kelly
Marcus D. Kelly, Ph.D.
Marlene Miriam Medina Enriquez
Scientist (Contr)
Marlene Miriam Medina Enriquez, Ph.D.
Haiyan Qin
Haiyan Qin
Nika Rajabian
Post-doctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Nika Rajabian, Ph.D.


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