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Overview

One in four deaths in the United States is caused by cancer. This devastating group of diseases has affected nearly every family in different ways. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast and prostate cancers are the most common in the United States and bronchus cancers have the highest death rate.

Cancers all have one thing in common: mutated cells from one’s own body begin to grow uncontrollably. This dangerous growth can be triggered for many different reasons. Cancer can be caused by inherited genetic mutations, such as the BRCA gene involved in some breast and ovarian cancers. Others come from random genetic mutations, sometimes caused by environmental contaminants, or consumption of alcohol or tobacco. Many cases of cancer come hand-in-hand with other diseases. For example, the intestinal tissue damage caused by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can also lead to colorectal cancer. Viruses such as human papillomavirus infection (HPV) can also lead to cancer-causing mutations.

The huge range of cancer causes and organs affected means that there cannot be a single cancer cure. Some cancers can be controlled or killed through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. More recently, antibody therapies have shown promise in stopping breast cancer growth and lymphomas.

However, immune system research can open the door to better detecting and treating all types of cancer.

Our Approach

The Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at La Jolla Institute is at the forefront of exploring new and sometimes unexpected avenues for novel immune-based cancer treatments, as well as predicting and improving the effectiveness of existing immunotherapies. 

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Research Projects

Vijayanand
Cancer Immunology

  In 2013, Dr. Vijayanand teamed up with Professor Christian Ottensmeier at the Cancer Center, University of Southampton, UK, to

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Sharma
Targeting Tumor Endothelium for Cancer Surveillance and Immunotherapy

Preliminary data from our lab shows that vascular endothelial cells (vECs) mount remarkably potent innate responses to cell-free DNA, which

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Sharma
New Molecular Players in the cGAS-STING Pathway of Anti-Viral and Anti-Tumor Defense

Cell-free, immuno-stimulatory DNA is recognized in the cytoplasm of cells as a universal danger signal by the innate immune system.

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Peters
Cancer

Immunotherapies for head and neck cancer: To develop new cancer therapies by studying how the immune system, by way of

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Hedrick
Immunoprofiling of Human Immune Cells in Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer

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Cheroutre
CD4+ Cytotoxic Lymphocytes

MHC class-II restricted CD4+ T cytotoxic cells (CD4 CTL) are among the best examples of extreme measures the immune system

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More research projects

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Labs

Jul 8, 2020
Vijayanand Lab

Pandurangan Vijayanand, M.D., Ph.D., and his lab members employ genomics tools to understand, diagnose and treat pulmonary disease such as asthma, lung cancer and infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus.

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Pandurangan Vijayanand, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
William K. Bowes Distinguished Professor, Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 8, 2020
Sharma Lab

Sonia Sharma, Ph.D., and her lab members lead unbiased, genome-scale approaches to unravel innate immunity, the body’s early immune response to microbial pathogens and neoplastic cells.

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Sonia Sharma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 8, 2020
Schoenberger Lab

Stephen Schoenberger, Ph.D., is focused on achieving a mechanistic understanding of the generation and regulation of T cell responses in the context of in vivo infection and tumor development.

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Stephen Schoenberger, Ph.D.
Professor
Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 8, 2020
Rao Lab

Anjana Rao, Ph.D., focuses on understanding how signaling pathways control gene expression, using T cells and other cells of the immune system as models.

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Anjana Rao, Ph.D.
Professor
Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 8, 2020
Hogan Lab

Patrick Hogan, Ph.D., studies cells at the nano level – seeking to understand how protein-protein interactions on the submicroscopic scale can have gargantuan impacts on human health and disease.

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Patrick Hogan, Ph.D.
Professor
Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 8, 2020
Hedrick Lab

Catherine "Lynn" Hedrick, Ph.D., and her lab members study and target monocytes to aid in the prevention of cancer. The lab also investigates neutrophil heterogeneity in cancer and cardiovascular disease.

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Catherine Hedrick, Ph.D.
Professor
Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 8, 2020
Croft Lab

Michael Croft, Ph.D., and his team focus on a number of molecules that are members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) family.

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Michael Croft, Ph.D.
Director, Scientific Affairs
Professor, Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation
Jul 8, 2020
Cheroutre Lab

Hilde Cheroutre, Ph.D., and her team study the development, function, and regulation of T lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells.

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Hilde Cheroutre, Ph.D.
Professor
Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Jul 7, 2020
Altman Lab

Amnon Altman, Ph.D., and his team study T lymphocytes—white blood cells formed in the thymus that are essential in the body’s fight against infection and disease.

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Amnon Altman, Ph.D.
Professor
Center for Cancer Immunotherapy