Peter Lee, M.D.

The focus of my research is on understanding how cancer impacts host immune responses in patients, with the goal of developing novel treatments to restore/enhance immune function in cancer patients. My group utilizes state-of-the-art technologies - such as high-dimensional flow cytometry, quantitative spatial image analysis, and next-generation genomics - to dissect the complex interplay between immune/stromal cells and cancer cells within tumors, tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLNs), and blood. Through image analysis of breast tumors and TDLNs, we have found that immune cell populations as well as their spatial distributions and clustering patterns have strong correlation with clinical outcome. My group has also shown that lymphocytes from patients with breast cancer, melanoma, and colorectal cancer develop immune signaling defects that blunt their proliferation and function in vivo. We are currently extending these findings in multiple directions, including to other human cancers such as prostate cancer and leukemia.

A unique focus of my work is on the impact of heterogeneity within tumors and tumor cell populations, including subpopulations commonly referred to as ‘cancer stem cells’, on the immune response. We utilize computational modeling and network analysis to understand the population dynamics of cancer and immune responses, as well as control theory to find novel interventions. As such, my group is highly interdisciplinary, combining immunology, pathology, genomics, bioinformatics, mathematical modeling, computer science, engineering, network analysis, and control systems.