Invited short talk
Dr. Kwan Ting CHOW

Department of Biomedical Sciences,

City University of Hong Kong

Dr. Chow received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University (Durham NC, USA). After two years of research in cancer genomics at Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard and MIT (Boston MA, USA), she moved to University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley CA, USA) to pursue graduate studies in Molecular and Cell Biology. Her PhD research focused on gene regulation during B lymphocyte development and malignant transformation. With a Croucher Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and an NIH F32 National Research Service Award, Dr. Chow conducted postdoctoral research at University of Washington (Seattle WA, USA) studying innate immune signaling and gene networks that regulate the anti-viral immune response. Dr. Chow joined City University of Hong Kong in 2018. Currently, the Chow lab focuses on investigating what constitute a protective immune response against cancer in order to design effective cancer immunotherapy. The lab combines concepts and techniques from biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, cancer biology, immunology, virology, genomics, cell and animal models, and systems biology to dissect the molecular pathways and gene regulatory networks that modulate the anti-cancer immune response. The ultimate goal of the lab is to develop vaccines and targeted therapies that harness the natural ability of our immune system to fight cancer.

Topic:  Mechanisms of immune modulation in the tumor microenvironment

Summary:  The ability to modulate the immune system underlies the basis of immunotherapy, which promises new interventions for myriad clinical conditions including cancer. We focus on the modulation of the innate immune system, which constitutes the first line of defence to keep danger at bay while mobilizing the adaptive immune response. Dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages are key innate immune cell types that establish a favorable immune environment for the recruitment and activation of other immune cells. Within the tumor microenvironment (TME), however, DCs and macrophages have been found to exert immunosuppressive effects in various cancers. The role of DCs and macrophages in facilitating tolerance or immune evasion in the TME has not been fully defined. We are dissecting the specific mechanisms by which the hepatocellular carcinoma TME modulates DC activity. We are also investigating the role of tumor-associated macrophages in promoting metastasis in breast cancer. Finally, we are delineating the contribution of DCs and macrophages respectively in novel cancer immunotherapy such as photodynamic therapy. Mechanistic insights from these studies will inform the design of novel tumor immunotherapy or vaccine strategies.