The main research focus of Marion R. Curtis, Ph.D., centers on understanding how the tumor microenvironment influences the metabolism of immune cells and how the metabolic state of immune cells may regulate cancer metastasis and response to immunotherapy. Dr. Curtis' laboratory employs a wide variety of techniques, including metabolomics, proteomics and advanced cellular imaging, applied to primary human cells and cancer models to identify mediators of immune cell metabolism and function.
- Immune cell metabolism. Dr. Curtis' lab uses co-culture systems with human cells and mouse models to elucidate the metabolic state of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment and determine how stromal cells influence the immune response to immunotherapy.
- Tumor antigens. The laboratory is utilizing immunopeptidomics to identify tumor-associated antigens from primary tumor samples, which are then used to design new personalized immunotherapy strategies such as T cell antigen receptors and dendritic cell vaccines for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Significance to patient care
Despite the well-documented importance of immune infiltration in ovarian tumors to patient outcome, responses to immunotherapy have been disappointing in patients with ovarian cancer even while this therapy continues to deliver unprecedented success in many cancer types. New approaches are critically needed to improve therapeutic responses; otherwise, the promise of immunotherapy may continue to fall short for patients with ovarian cancer. Dr. Curtis' long-term goal is to identify metabolic drivers of immune cell function in the tumor microenvironment and exploit them to improve immunotherapy response.
- Recipient, Ann and Sol Schreiber Mentored Investigator Award, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, 2017
- Recipient, Travel Award, Biological Sciences Division Postdoctoral Association Symposium, University of Chicago, 2016