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AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant

The AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant represents a joint effort to encourage and support mid-career female physician-scientists and researchers to conduct immuno-oncology research and to foster their career advancement toward becoming a senior investigator. Research projects may be translational or clinical in nature with a focus on immuno-oncology.

2018 grantee

Julie Schwarz, MD, PhD

Julie Schwarz, MD, PhD

Associate Professor
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
Targeting CXCR2 to improve radiation induced anti-tumor immunity

Scientific Statement of Research
Radiation therapy (RT) has well known immune suppressive effects, including stimulating the expression of cytokines and chemokines that promote the migration of immune suppressive cell subsets into the tumor microenvironment (TME). Experiments in this proposal will test the hypotheses that 1) radiation promotes myeloid cell accumulation in the cervical TME via the CXCR2/ELR+ chemokine axis which limits anti-tumor immunity, and 2) selective targeting of CXCR2 will improve the efficacy of RT and RT combined with immune checkpoint blockade (RT + ICB). RT-associated changes in tumor associated macrophages (TAMs), neutrophils (TANs) and T cell subpopulations will be tracked using single cell RNA sequencing (sc-RNA) and mass cytometry (CyTOF) of human cervical tumor specimens collected before and during treatment. Selective targeting of myeloid cell infiltration with CXCR2 inhibition will be tested as a means to improve the response to RT and RT + ICB in a mouse model of HPV-associated cancer.

Dr. Schwarz graduated magna cum laude with a BS in biology from Duke University. She earned MD and PhD degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSM), where she trained in the laboratory of Helen Piwnica-Worms. She was a Holman Research Pathway resident in radiation oncology at WUSM. She maintains an R01 funded research laboratory while treating patients with gynecologic cancers. Her current research interests include radiation resistance, functional imaging, metabolism, and genomics in cervical cancer. She currently serves as the cancer biology division chief within the Department of Radiation Oncology at WUSM.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to receive the AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant. My lab studies radiation responses using human tumor specimens and mouse models of HPV-associated cancers. This funding will allow my lab to grow in a promising new direction. We will determine how radiation influences the immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment.