AACR-Debbie’s Dream Foundation Career Development Award for Gastric Cancer Research
The AACR-Debbie’s Dream Foundation Career Development Award for Gastric Cancer Research represents a joint effort to encourage and support junior faculty to conduct gastric cancer research and to establish a successful career path in this field.
Dr. McGee aims to investigate the effect of radiation-induced inflammasome activation and alarmin production on the tumor immune microenvironment in gastric cancer. The McGee lab will investigate whether radiation induces inflammasome-mediated pyroptosis in gastric cancer and determine if radiation-induced IL-18 activates immune cells in the gastric tumor microenvironment. In addition, the McGee lab will elucidate whether inflammasome-targeted therapy can synergize with radiation to improve outcomes in a unique immunocompetent murine xenograft model of gastric cancer developed with Dr. Thinzar Lwin (City of Hope Department of Surgery). Ultimately, Dr. McGee and colleagues hope to learn how to enhance radiation’s ability to activate anti-tumor immune responses in gastric cancer to improve treatment options for patients with this disease.
Dr. McGee studied biochemistry at UC Berkeley and earned a Master of Philosophy in immunology at the University of Cambridge. She completed her medical degree and doctorate (MD/PhD) in immunobiology at Yale. After an internship at the University of California San Francisco and a radiation oncology residency at Mount Sinai, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute. Currently, she is a physician-scientist and an assistant professor in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Immuno-Oncology at City of Hope, where she treats patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Her laboratory is funded by an NIH/NCI R00 award and is investigating the role of tissue-resident immune cells in response to radiation in unique tumor microenvironments.
Acknowledgement of Support
“I am very grateful to receive the AACR-Debbie’s Dream Foundation Career Development Award for Gastric Cancer Research. This grant allows me to expand my lab’s research in a new direction to investigate the role of radiation-induced immune cell activation in gastric cancer. I am honored to partner with the AACR to study this rare gastrointestinal malignancy.”
Close to half (48%) and 15% of metastatic gastric cancer (GC) patients have lesions in the liver and the lung, respectively. Dr. Eissmann and his colleagues have developed the first of its kind GC mouse model that is genetically defined and immune-competent, and where orthotopic primary tumor growth with synchronous liver and lung metastasis formation can be reproducibly observed. Their previous studies demonstrate that Stat3 signaling promotes metastatic potential to these sites. In this study, he aims to discover the transcriptional traits of dominant metastatic cancer clones in the Stat3 high versus low tumor microenvironment, and reveal novel therapeutic vulnerabilities that can potentially be targeted to suppress metastatic spread and reduce associated mortality.
After receiving his Master of Science degrees in Medical Biotechnology at the Technical University in Berlin, Germany and his Bio-Chemical Engineering at Dongseo University in Busan, Korea, Dr. Eissmann conducted his PhD studies in the field of tumor biology and received his PhD from Goethe University in Germany. Dr. Eissmann then trained as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) in Australia. Since 2021, he has been a Victorian Cancer Agency Fellow and leads his independent research group within the Cancer and Inflammation program of the ONJCRI.
Acknowledgment of Support
This prestigious award will fuel my passion to conduct gastric cancer research that aims to improve patient outcomes. Importantly, this award empowers me to pursue a project, which if successful, will bring hope for better therapies for those metastatic gastric cancer patients with the worst prognosis.