Zachary Morris, MD, PhD
Department: Human Oncology
Immunology Focus area: Immuno-oncology. Translational and early phase clinical research.
Descriptive Title of Research: Exploring the impact of radiation on innate and adaptive anti-tumor immune response.
Research Description: The efforts of my translational research laboratory focus on examining the mechanisms and pre-clinical testing of treatment approaches that combine radiation and molecular-targeted therapeutics to drive anti-tumor immune responses. We are particularly interested in the concept of in situ tumor vaccination. In situ tumor vaccination is a therapeutic strategy that seeks to convert a patient’s own tumor into a nidus for enhanced presentation of tumor-specific antigens in a way that will stimulate and diversify an anti-tumor T cell response. RT elicits an anti-tumor effect through induction of DNA damage in tumor cells, yet it has long been recognized that host immune capability and tumor immune susceptibility modulate the sensitivity of a tumor to RT. Mechanisms by which local RT may interact with the immune system include release of tumor-specific antigens, phenotypic changes in tumor cell expression of immune susceptibility markers, and local eradication of suppressive immune cell lineages. By modulating tumor immune tolerance and functional immunogenicity at a targeted site, RT may serve as an important component of in situ tumor vaccination.
Graduate Program Affiliations: Pending
Lab Website: https://www.humonc.wisc.edu/index.php/Morris_Lab