Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Whitney Johnson, PhD

Dr. Johnson studies how cancer cells trigger innate immune signaling pathways, facilitating their recognition and destruction by the host immune system. One way cancer cells differ from normal cells is their abnormal nuclei, which are often prone to spontaneously rupture. Although nuclear envelope rupture has been implicated in innate immune activation, the mechanism by which this occurs remains unclear. Dr. Johnson’s wants to understand how nuclear envelope abnormalities trigger innate immune pathways--in particular, through recognition of aberrant nucleic acids in the cancer cell cytoplasm. The ultimate goal is for this work to improve our understanding of cancer cell biology in the hopes of better diagnosing and treating cancer patients, especially in the context of immunotherapy. 

Project title: "Innate immune consequences of nuclear envelope rupture"
Institution: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Named Award: HHMI Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): David Pellman, MD
Cancer Type: Pancreatic, All Cancers
Research Area: Cell Biology