Dr. Hargadon Receives VAS Grant

June 01, 2011

HargadonDr. Kristian M. Hargadon '01 has received a grant from the Virginia Academy of Sciences Jefress Memorial Trust. The award is for $25,000.

Dr. Hargadon's research interests lie in understanding the immune response to the skin cancer melanoma.  Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, killing over 50,000 Americans each year. This cancer has frequently been shown to induce dysfunctional immune responses.

The basis for this anti-tumor immune dysfunction is often unclear.  Using mice as a model organism for his research, Dr. Hargadon has obtained preliminary data demonstrating that melanoma tumor cells suppress the function of dendritic cells, an immune cell type whose maturation and activation is critical for activating a variety of other cells of the immune system.

The goals of this project are to better understand the nature of this dendritic cell dysfunction, the mechanisms by which melanomas induce this dysfunction, and the impact of tumor-associated dendritic cell dysfuction on the overall immune response to melanoma.  Insights into these issues will further our understanding of anti-tumor immune dysfunction and may potentially suggest novel immunotherapeutic strategies for improving the immune response to melanoma.

Additionally, this research program will further support Dr. Hargadon's collaboration with H-SC students and will expose these students to a variety of cutting-edge molecular biology and immunologic techniques that include include real time RT-PCR, ELISA, and flow cytometry.

The purpose of the Thomas F. Jeffress and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust is to support basic scientific in chemical, medical or other scientific fields through grants to educational and research institutions in the Commonwealth of Virginia.