Sara Martina Parigi, PhD, CRI-Carson Family Fellow The Rockefeller University Cancers develop when cells in our body acquire mutations and undergo aberrant and uncontrolled proliferation. Our immune system constantly patrols our body trying to protect us and to eliminate emerging tumor cells. However, cancer cells have evolved a strategy to evade the immune-mediated elimination and to hijack the immune system, exploiting immune cells to favor cancer growth. Understanding how immune cells are deviated from their original function and how cancer cells outgrow will provide us with novel therapeutic targets to impede tumor progression. Dr. Parigi hypothesizes that by observing how cancer cells directly interact with immune cells inside our body will allow us to answer this question and, therefore, she proposes to use a new tool towards this goal. This new technique will allow us to explore how cancer cells directly “communicate” with immune cells and to decipher the signals that they use to influence each other’s function. By applying this new technology in the context of skin squamous cell carcinoma, Dr. Parigi aims to uncover cancer cells vulnerabilities and to target them to impede tumor progression. Moreover, this project will allow her to develop a toolbox that can be applied to other types of tumors, thus expanding the therapeutic implications of this proposal. Projects and Grants How communication between tumorigenic stem cells and the immune niche impacts malignant progression The Rockefeller University | All Cancers | 2022 | Elaine Fuchs, Ph.D.