Sabina A. Kaczanowska, Ph.D.
- Center for Cancer Research
- National Cancer Institute
- Building 10-CRC, Room 1-3888W
- Bethesda, MD 20892
Sabina Kaczanowska’s research focus is to understand the role of the immune system in shaping the microenvironment of metastasis during cancer progression. Specifically, she is investigating how myeloid cells orchestrate the immunosuppressive program in the pre-metastatic niche and how we can apply this knowledge of myeloid biology to design new immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of solid tumors.
Areas of Expertise
1) tumor immunology, 2) cancer immunotherapy, 3) tumor microenvironment, 4) metastasis
Our lab is interested in how microenvironmental factors drive metastasis. The pre-metastatic niche was identified based on the observation that tumor-secreted factors create a metastasis-conducive microenvironment at distant sites that promotes the growth and survival of disseminated tumor cells. Our work is focused on understanding the immunological changes that occur in the pre-metastatic niche and identify targets for therapeutic intervention. Our group identified that there is an expansion of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the bone marrow that home to pre-metastatic sites, such as the lung, prior to evidence of metastatic lesions. These bone marrow-derived cells differentiate into suppressive myeloid cells and limit T cell responses. We comprehensively characterized the immune population dynamics in the pre-metastatic niche and identified a core program of myeloid-mediated immune suppression. To take advantage of the large infiltration of myeloid cells into tumor and metastatic sites, we developed the genetically engineered myeloid (GEMy) cell technology to deliver therapeutic factors to reprogram the microenvironment and restore antitumor immunity. Further, we are leading multi-institutional collaborative efforts to investigate the role of myeloid-mediated immune suppression in limiting CAR T cell therapy in solid tumor patients and investigating key functional genes in human monocytes to identify therapeutic interventions. The ultimate goal of our lab is to translate our pre-clinical work from the bench to the bedside to prevent and treat metastasis in advanced solid tumor patients.
Sabina A. Kaczanowska, Ph.D.
Dr. Kaczanowska received her Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore for her dissertation work on T cell immunotherapy in the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. She joined the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Section of Pediatric Oncology Branch at the NCI as a postdoctoral fellow in 2017. Her postdoctoral research focused on characterizing the immune response to metastasis in a pre-clinical model of rhabdomyosarcoma and developing a genetically engineered myeloid (GEMy) cell therapy platform as an immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer. She was selected as one of two inaugural NCI Transition to Industry (T2I) fellows to accelerate the technology transfer and clinical development of the GEMy technology. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Kaczanowska received many accolades including the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists, numerous travel grants and Federal Technology Transfer Awards, and was named the 2020 CCR-FYI Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Kaczanowska was appointed as a Staff Scientist in the Pediatric Oncology Branch in 2022 to continue her work evaluating the responses of solid tumor patients to immunotherapy and translating new immuno-oncology approaches into the clinic.