Cancer Immunology Research Program

Cancer Immunology program themesThe Cancer Immunology Research Program at Hollings Cancer Center aims to identify how the immune system influences tumor growth and regression and then use this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic and preventive immuno-oncology strategies to treat cancer. The most promising discoveries are advanced to preclinical studies and, when appropriate, quickly moved into clinical trials. The process is an interactive one that involves close collaboration between the Cancer Immunology Research Program, the Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Research Program and Hollings Cancer Center’s scientific community as a whole.

These goals are realized through a multi-level approach that includes monthly program meetings, program-specific seminars, transdisciplinary research teams, intramural funding and training opportunities, investments in existing and new shared resources and targeted recruitment of faculty.

Program investigators have achieved key milestones in new areas of research, such as exposing the roles of T-cell metabolism and platelets in tumor immunity, and are beginning to understand distinctive immunological properties in ethnic and economically underserved populations in South Carolina. Collectively, the program consists of 20 basic and clinical scientist members drawn from seven departments within MUSC’s College of Medicine.

The three major themes and aims of the program are:

  • Immunotherapy: To develop innovative immunotherapeutic strategies to treat cancer patients
  • Inflammation and tolerance: To define the role of inflammation in oncogenesis and to understand the mechanisms of tolerance
  • T-cell biology: To elucidate (or “reveal”) the mechanisms that govern T cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity

Program Co-Leader

Dr. Zihai Li

Zihai Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

College of Medicine

Academic Focus

  • Oncology, Tumor Immunology, Cancer Vaccine, Innate Immunity, and Stem Cell Biology

 Research Profile

Program Co-Leader

Dr. Chrystal  M. Paulos

Chrystal M. Paulos, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

College of Medicine

Academic Focus

  • Microbiology and Immunology

 Research Profile

Featured Research

Using artificial intelligence and bioinformatics, researchers can create a two-dimensional mapping that can read test results, creating an Instagram of millions of blood cells.

Researcher creates ‘Instagram’ of immune system, blending science, technology

Being on the cutting edge of science and technology excites Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) researcher Carsten Krieg, Ph.D. Each day, he walks into his lab that houses a mass cytometry machine aptly labeled Helios. Krieg explains how it can heat plasma up to 6,000 degrees Celsius, levels comparable to temperatures found on the sun.

This allows the German native, who recently joined the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina’s departments of immunology and dermatology, to accomplish an interesting feat. He creates a sort of ‘Instagram’ of a person’s immune system. For cancer patients on experimental immunotherapy treatments, the practical application is obvious and exciting, he said.

Shared Resources

To ensure cancer investigators have access to specialized technology and research services, the Hollings Cancer Center supports shared resources that are efficient, cost-effective and provide the latest industry standards for enhanced scientific productivity.

Shared Resources

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