Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Isabella Fraschilla, PhD

Pancreatic cancer remains unresponsive to current chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments. However, with the recent development of mRNA vaccines and drugs that target cancer cell mutations, there is hope for a new generation of immune-based therapies. The ability of adaptive immune cells, called cytotoxic T cells, to kill cancer cells is central to anti-tumor immunity. Using mouse models of human pancreatic cancer, Dr. Fraschilla [Merck Fellow] plans to identify the flags presented by cancer cells that enable T cells to recognize them as foreign and kill them. One category of flags that label cancer cells as foreign may be proteins from bacteria that prefer to replicate within the tumor environment. This investigation of cancer cell targets will inform the development of future vaccines to treat cancer and prevent tumor regrowth or metastases. Dr. Fraschilla received her PhD from Harvard University, Cambridge and her BS from Emory University, Atlanta.

Project title: "Examining bacteria as a source of tumor antigens"
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Named Award: Merck Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Tyler E. Jacks, PhD
Cancer Type: Pancreatic
Research Area: Tumor Immunology