Genetic variation in immune genes creates inter-individual differences in immune traits. We are investigating the implications of these differences for cancer risk, progression and response to therapy. By jointly analyzing matched tumor and normal genomic data, we have found that individual immune genotypes can influence the evolution of tumor genomes, shape the tumor immune microenvironment and modify response to immunotherapy treatment. These studies will ultimately guide development of precision immunotherapies.
Experimental assays to probe genetic variants at the single cell level provide new opportunities to model the effects of variants on biological processes and cellular activities. We are developing new experimental and computational approaches to investigate the context-specific consequences of genetic variation for biological systems to better understand their implications for human health.
Cancer develops on an individual's unique genetic background. While some inherited mutations are known to predispose individuals to developing tumors, little is known about the effects of such inherited genetic variation on the evolution of the tumor genome. We are working to uncover new regions of the genome that influence the probability that certain mutations will occur during tumor development. We previously described multiple loci that influence mutation rates of known cancer genes and the site at which a tumor will occur.