August 26, 2011
Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon '01, Assistant Professor of Biology, has received a Maurice L. Mednick Memorial Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges (VFIC).The Fellowship will support Dr. Hargadon's research on dendritic cells.
Dendritic cells are critical regulators of the immune system, and their ability to induce functional immune responses is dependent on their maturation and activation status.
Dr. Hargadon and his Hampden-Sydney students have recently shown that melanoma tumor cells are capable of suppressing dendritic cell maturation and activation. Research supported by the Mednick Fellowship aims to further characterize the phenotype and function of these tumor-altered dendritic cells.
Additionally, studies will evaluate how these tumor-altered dendritic cells influence the activity of other cells of the immune system, particularly helper and cytotoxic T cells.
Finally, this work will also address the production of immunosupressive factors by melanoma tumor cells and the role of these factors in the suppression of dendritic cell maturation and activation.
Collectively, these studies will offer signficant insights into mechansims of tumor immune escape and may identify novel targets for immunotherapeutic strategies designed to improve anti-tumor immune responses.