Dominique B. Hoelzinger, Ph.D.

Photo of Dominique B. Hoelzinger, Ph.D.
  • Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Immunology
  • Laboratory of Sandra J. Gendler, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Graduate School: Arizona State University

What sparked your interest in science?

I have been interested in knowing about all living things surrounding me and discovering how things work since early childhood. First, I was drawn to studying zoology and botany at the University of Vienna, Austria, but then I realized that the answers to how things work start with DNA, so I switched to molecular biology.

My degree was based on factors that influence brain cancer invasion into the brain. During this time, I learned that our tools to fight cancer are not making much impact on patient survival. I wanted to study how to use the immune system to fight cancer.

How would you describe your area of expertise?

I work in the field of tumor immunology. I am primarily concerned with developing new adjuvant therapies that can be used to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

The goal of my research is to help cancer immunotherapies be more effective. The ultimate goal being that each patient's immune system will help eradicate his or her cancer in a gentler, more well-tolerated manner than does chemotherapy alone.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to explore research?

I was lucky to find a cancer immunologist, Dr. Joseph Lustgarten, who needed a person with my molecular biology background to generate new targets to develop anti-immunosuppressant treatments. I have since joined the laboratory of Sandra J. Gendler, Ph.D., with the same overall mission.

What do you like about living in Arizona?

I live in Arizona, a state of tremendous beauty and a large variety of ecosystems. Since I like outdoor activities, I explore Arizona by foot and by mountain bike.