My clinical expertise includes urologic oncology and renal transplantation, performing open, laparoscopic, and robotic-assisted surgeries for bladder, kidney, and prostate cancer patients.
Our laboratory studies the tumor microenvironment in prostate and bladder cancer using a combination of animal models, human reconstitution systems, and primary tumor and hematopoietic cells. We are interested in several aspects including the following:
1. Molecular mechanisms in programing tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. The nature and composition of immune cells in cancer have been linked with tumor grade and overall survival. However, the determinants that lead to immune infiltrating cells in cancer is unclear. We are studying the endogenous signals, innate immune, and adaptive immune pathways that program the composition of the tumor immune microenvironment, and how these will influence tumor proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. We are also interested in how we can reprogram the immune components of the tumor microenvironment to shape tumorigenicity.
2. Mechanisms controlling development and differentiation of cancer stem cells. Cancer initiating cells share similar features to stem cells with their ability for self-renewal and pluripotency. These cell populations may explain the recurrent nature and drug resistance of cancer. We are studying the cell intrinsic signals as well as the cell extrinsic influences from immune and stromal cells of the cancer stem cell in their differentiation, ability to undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and development of an invasive phenotype.
Our studies will provide fundamental understanding of the tumor microenvironment, as well as develop therapeutic targets, novel immune-based platforms, and stem cell based therapies against cancer.