CRI Funded Scientists

Gregory F. Sonnenberg, PhD, CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR

Weill Cornell Medicine

Area of Research: All Cancers

As an inaugural CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR, Dr. Gregory F. Sonnenberg aims to define the relationship between bacteria, the immune system, and cancer, in order to gain insights into the factors that support tumor growth as well as uncover novel ways to boost the effectiveness of immunotherapies against tumors.

The microbes in our bodies shape how tumors develop, progress, and respond to treatment. However, the mechanisms behind their impact remain poorly understood and may hold the key for developing novel prevention and treatment strategies. Therefore, Dr. Sonnenberg plans to define new pathways by which normally beneficial microbes interact with mammalian hosts to influence tumor growth, invasion, and responsiveness to checkpoint blockade immunotherapies. His team will accomplish this by building off their recent seminal findings as well as exciting preliminary data that challenges current dogmas. Their approaches will encompass innovative mouse models and patient-based translational studies.

Their themes of research include: (i) determining how microbiota modulate tumor growth; (ii) defining the functional potential of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in cancer; and, (iii) interrogating host-microbiota interactions in cancer checkpoint blockade immunotherapies. The research is high-risk, given that the questions are broad and that tumor immunology is a relatively new area of investigation in his laboratory. However, it’s also potentially high-reward, as his team will bring fresh ideas and novel perspectives to the field, and their findings may directly identify therapeutic targets that could be rapidly moved into the clinic to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients.

Projects and Grants

Modulating host-microbiota interactions to improve cancer immunotherapies

Weill Cornell Medicine | All Cancers | 2018

Defining host-microbe interactions in cancer and immunotherapy

Weill Cornell Medicine | All Cancers | 2019


Antigen-presenting innate lymphoid cells orchestrate neuroinflammation

John B. Grigg et al | Nature | 2021 | DOI

Group 3 innate lymphoid cells produce the growth factor HB-EGF to protect the intestine from TNF-mediated inflammation

Lei Zhou et al | Nature Immunology | 2022 | DOI

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