Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

A major focus of the immunotherapy research happening at Houston Methodist Dr. Mary and Ron Neal Cancer Center is on the tumor immune microenvironment and understanding mechanisms of tumorigenesis. Tumor cells evade immune surveillance at multiple stages of cancer progression. The program aims to identify key factors that participate and/or regulate in the cross-talk between tumor initiating cells/stem cells and host immune cells. Knowledge gained from members in this program will help counteract tumor mediated immune suppression to develop impactful novel immunotherapies. There is an abundance of evidence suggesting that cancer vaccine, adoptive T cell therapy, immune checkpoint therapy and oncolytic viral gene therapy initiate anti-tumor immune responses that can restrain tumor growth, whereas innate immune cells, such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), macrophages, neutrophil, stromal cells within the tumor micro-environment (TME) are the major contributors to tumor progression and ineffectiveness of immune or chemotherapies.


Our immunotherapy program is tackling this using three main scientific themes:


  • Understanding the tumor intrinsic factors and mechanisms that contribute to shaping innate and adoptive immunity and immune dysregulation in the TME;
  • Developing preclinical models to reprogram innate and adaptive immune dysfunctions through novel immune checkpoints and metabolic regulations to restore the antitumor immunity 
  • Translating preclinical discoveries into cancer immunotherapy clinical trials.

Shu-Hsia Chen, PhD

headshot of Shu-Hsia Chen, PhD

Shu-Hsia Chen, PhD
Emily Herrmann Chair in Immunology Research, Cancer Center
Director, Center for Immunotherapy Research
Professor of Oncology, Academic Institute
Full Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist