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Research title: Tumor immunology and microenvironmental control of colorectal tumors

Research summary: Within solid tumors cancer cells have pivotal roles in orchestrating immune reactions to create an inflammatory microenvironment that favors tumor development. Our previous work (Greten et al. 2007, Cell; Schwitalla et al. 2013, Cell; Stellzig et al. 2013, Oncogenesis; Göktuna et al. 2014, Cell Reports; Chau and Göktuna et al. 2015, Journal of Immunology; Ladang et al. 2015, Journal of Experimental Medicine; Göktuna et al. 2016 Cancer Research) had focused on identifying key signaling pathways that regulate cytokine and chemokine signaling to direct inflammatory cell activations in mouse models of colorectal tumorigenesis. Eventually, we identified key mechanisms that regulate interactions of epithelial and immune cells which may enable us to develop therapeutic tools to interfere with tumor development regardless of stage and resistance to chemotherapeutics. Hence, we will utilize diverse mouse models of colorectal cancers together with transgenic mouse models to identify how diverse cytokine signaling pathways are regulated within different cell types and how these regulations affect tumor development in colorectal cancers.

We also want to expand our knowledge on the regulation of tumor microenvironment by the microbiota to develop better understanding of their roles in disease and health. Besides, we want to develop mouse models of inflammatory bowel diseases to understand risk factors and how these diseases are connected to colorectal cancer development in different settings.

Our expertise comprises handling of in vivo samples for various disease models, generation of primary cell lines, isolation of immune cells and their characterization via flow cytometry, adoptive transplants of immune cells into host animals, various histological procedures for identifying specific phenotypes, handling colorectal cancer cell lines for various cellular assays and lentivirus based loss-of-function experiments, and almost all molecular biology techniques that will be required for basic research scientists (cloning, transfections, high or low throughput gene expression profiling, protein expression, interaction and modification studies etc.). We are also aiming to adopt recent technologies like CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in cell cultures and in vitro organoid cultures with our future studies.

Research Keywords: tumor immunology, colorectal cancer, tumor microenvironment, solid tumors, inflammatory bowel diseases, colitis, signal transduction, immunotherapy.