The overarching goal of the Immunology Program is to define the basic mechanisms that control immunity in order to develop and optimize immunotherapies that generate a specific and durable anti-tumor immune response. To achieve this goal, we have strong research themes in place focused on the following Aims: 1) To elucidate the mechanisms that control immune tolerance, 2) To understand the development and maintenance of immunological memory, and 3) To develop and optimize cancer immunotherapies. The Immunology Program is led by Yoji Shimizu, PhD, and new co-leader, Jeffrey Miller, MD. Drs. Shimizu and Miller work collaboratively to accelerate Immunology Program research findings through the translational pipeline. Dr. Shimizu works with Immunology Program members to move high-impact and innovative basic research advances into cancer-relevant models and preclinical studies, and Dr. Miller bridges the basic science discoveries to resources within the Masonic Cancer Center in order to ultimately translate Immunology Program research findings into phase 1 clinical trials. The Program has 22 members, representing 9 departments and 3 schools or colleges (Medical School, College of Science and Engineering, and College of Veterinary Medicine). For the last budget year, these members were supported by $2.5 million in direct costs from the National Cancer Institute; funding from all peer-reviewed sources totaled $7.6 million in direct costs. Since 2013, Program members have published 354 papers (21% in journals with an impact factor >10), 24% of which resulted from intraprogrammatic collaborations, 23% from interprogrammatic collaborations, and 80% from external collaborations. Since 2013, 74 clinical trials in all clinical research categories have opened under this programmatic area and have accrued 203 patients. Access to Masonic Cancer Center Shared Resources, particularly Flow Cytometry and Translational Cell Therapy, is essential to the success of the Immunology Program. The Masonic Cancer Center has also enhanced Program activities through new faculty recruitments and funding of 4 pilot projects that resulted in 3 NCI-funded grants and a total ROI of $4.5M. The MCC supported and funded 21 monthly seminars that included 5 invited external speakers. Extensive intraprogrammatic and interprogrammatic interactions are enhanced by regular research-in-progress supergroup meetings, a faculty-only data club, a journal club, and an annual retreat sponsored by the Masonic Cancer Center. Program members also play a leadership role in training the next generation of cancer researchers. The Immunology Program research is aligned with the Masonic Cancer Center's strategic Scientific Priority for Growth (SPG1) to expand recent discoveries in immunotherapy and cellular therapeutics to include solid tumors. Furthermore, the Program's research addresses the elevated rates of myeloid leukemia and melanoma in Minnesota as well as developing novel therapies to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality for the major cancer burdens in MN: prostate, breast, lung.

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National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
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