Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



Honoring Hispanic Immunologists During National Hispanic Heritage Month

Immunotherapy is the most forward-thinking and promising treatment for many types of cancers. Outcomes for childhood cancers, breast cancer, skin cancer, and other cancers have vastly improved due to innovative improvements in immunotherapy in recent years.

However, not all communities and people receive the same access to care or have the same outcomes as the general population. The Hispanic community experiences a disparity in cancer treatment that deserves more attention and focus. Fortunately, there are many creative, brilliant Hispanic immunologists who are striving to change this outcome disparity within their communities, and writ large. CRI is proud to highlight a few of these up-and-coming scientists during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

  • Andrea Castro, PhD (University College London) is a CRI postdoctoral fellow who is conducting research about how non classical mutations guide response to immunotherapy. Her project seeks to comprehensively characterize nonclassical mutations from cancer-linked bacteria and dysregulated cellular processes in cancer. In doing so, Dr. Castro can help identify crucial tumor characteristics as to how cancer dysregulation shapes the landscape of mutations that can be targeted with immunotherapy.
  • Rachel Jimenez, PhD (Moffitt Cancer Center) is a CRI-Genentech postdoctoral fellow who is addressing the potential for cancer immunotherapy research to provide solutions for the unmet needs of many cancer patients. Dr. Jimenez seeks to identify an immunotherapy target in tumor myeloid cells to replenish their antitumor processes and enable long-lasting remission. The findings from Dr. Jimenez’s research could broaden the application of immunotherapy for many patients with varieties of different cancers.
  • Megan Molina, PhD (University of Washington) is a CRI postdoctoral fellow who is specifically researching solid tumor cancers. Dr. Molina’s goal is to produce signaling proteins that trigger nature sensing pathways associated with infection and deliver them to tumors with engineered tumor-targeting T cells. Her hypothesis is that this strategy will hurdle several obstacles in cancer immunotherapy research with increased precision targeting to help improve the potency and durability of select treatment while inhibiting negative side effects.

Drs. Castro, Jimenez, and Molina are all supported by the CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship to Promote Racial Diversity – a CRI initiative that began in 2021 to help address disparities in the cancer immunotherapy field by providing grants for young, promising scientists from underrepresented communities. To further address the gap in cancer care for Hispanic patients, CRI now hosts a Spanish-language virtual summit to help educate and empower cancer patients and their families. The Hispanic community experiences a lower rate of cancer diagnosis at an early stage in the disease, and it is our sincere wish that the summit helps inform patients, caregivers, and their families to ensure a greater likelihood of long-term survival. The next CRI Spanish-language virtual summit will take place early in 2024. Furthermore, CRI’s entire website is now accessible in Spanish.

CRI’s mission is to create a world immune to cancer. Part of accomplishing this task requires empowering all communities. This month, CRI is proud to highlight just a few of our Hispanic immunologists who are helping our mission become a reality.

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