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