Susan M. Kaech, Ph.D., Oliver R. Grace CLIP InvestigatorSalk Institute for Biological Studies

The grant support from CRI is allowing our lab to better understand how tumors develop resistance to current forms of immunotherapy, and whether there are new types of drugs that may work better...
Area of Research: All Cancers

Immunotherapy has benefitted many patients across several different cancer types by empowering their immune systems to eliminate their tumors. Unfortunately, in the majority of patients, tumors figure out ways to evade the immune system. To decipher how tumors do this, Dr. Susan Kaech is comparing the genetic differences between immunotherapy-resistant tumors and those that respond to immunotherapy. In this way, she aims to systematically identify the genes that may contribute to immunotherapy resistance. After identifying potentially important genes, Dr. Kaech will then determine the ability of each of these genes to cause resistance, and then characterize the mechanisms through which they do so. Overall, her studies will deepen our understanding of how tumor resistance occurs, which could potentially lead to new ways of combining immunotherapies to make them more effective and durable as well as provide a foundation for the development of superior monitoring strategies for patients undergoing immunotherapy.

Funding by CRI for my lab and postdoctoral fellows has allowed us to voyage into studying forms of immunotherapies that operate independently of T cells with the hope of identifying therapies for patients with non-inflammed tumors.

As a Wade F. B. Thompson CLIP Investigator (2014-2017), Dr. Kaech investigated how targeting tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) might enhance immunotherapy’s effectiveness and improve patient survival.

Susan Kaech, CRI-Funded Scientist: My mother died from breast cancer in the late '80s, and she didn't have the treatments we have today that energize our immune system to attack cancer.

Projects and Grants

Elucidating cellular and genetic factors associated with tumor resistance to immunotherapies

Salk Institute for Biological Studies | All Cancers | 2017

Enhancing immunotherapy-based cancer treatments through CD40-dependent immunomodulation of the tumor microenvironment

Yale University | Lung Cancer, Melanoma | 2014

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