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Deciphering epigenetic regulation of the immune response in cancer

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Deciphering epigenetic regulation of the immune response in cancer

25 September 2019

12:00 p.m. ET

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Cancers escape normal immune surveillance through several pathways. For example, T cells isolated from tumors have been found to be dysfunctional, opening the door to possible immunotherapy interventions, such as immune-checkpoint inhibitors. However, significant clinical responses to immunotherapy have been observed in only a subset of patients and cancer types. T-cell exhaustion is another variable at play, resulting in reduced efficacy of the immune system in removing cancerous cells. To address these clinical challenges and design predictably effective cancer treatments, we must elucidate the precise underlying regulatory mechanisms that determine tumor-specific T-cell functional states and their potential for therapeutic reprogramming. In this webinar, we review the underlying mechanisms and epigenetic programs determining tumor-specific T-cell dysfunction and reprogrammability and discuss current challenges and outstanding research questions in cancer immunotherapy.

During the webinar, viewers will learn about:

  • Plastic vs. fixed (dysfunctional) states of tumor-specific T cells, and how these states are defined by distinct chromatin patterns and transcription factor networks
  • The role of epigenetic programs in enforcing the acquired gene expression programs associated with long-lived functional versus dysfunctional T-cell responses
  • The implications of these fundamental concepts in the rational development of T-cell-based immunotherapies.

Viewers can put questions to the speakers during the live event.

This webinar will last for approximately 60 minutes.

You can also view part 1 and part 2 of this series.

Speaker bios

Andrea Schietinger, Ph.D.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

Dr. Schietinger is an Assistant Member in the Immunology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). She received her degree in pharmacology from the University of Hamburg, Germany, and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago working under Dr. Hans Schreiber, where she studied how aberrant glycosylation of wildtype proteins creates tumor-specific neoantigens in cancer cells. As a postdoctoral fellow in Philip Greenberg’s laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle, she defined the transcriptional programs associated with T-cell self-tolerance and tumor-specific T-cell dysfunction. Since joining MSKCC in 2015, her laboratory studies the regulatory molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying T-cell differentiation and dysfunction in the context of tumors. Dr. Schietinger is the 2017 recipient of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and a recipient of the 2019 Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old STAR grant.

Benjamin A. Youngblood, Ph.D.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Memphis, TN

Dr. Youngblood is currently an associate member in the Department of Immunology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his B.S. in biochemistry from Oregon State University and went on to do his graduate training in biochemistry, studying enzyme specificity of DNA methyltransferases at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He joined Rafi Ahmed’s laboratory in 2007 for postdoctoral training focused on epigenetic regulation of memory CD8 T-cell differentiation. In 2014, he joined the faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he has established a research program studying epigenetic mechanisms that regulate the role of functional and nonfunctional CD8 T cells in viral infection, cancer, and autoimmunity.  

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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