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AACR-Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Research Fellowship

The AACR-Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Research Fellowship represents a joint effort to encourage and support postdoctoral or clinical research fellows to conduct triple negative breast cancer research and to establish a successful career path in this field. The research proposed for funding may be basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological in nature and must have direct applicability and relevance to triple negative breast cancer.

2018 Grantee

Claire Lhuillier, PhD

Claire Lhuillier, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate
Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York
Role of SIRPa blockade in radiation-induced anti-tumor immunity

Scientific Statement of Research
An outstanding challenge in the cancer immunotherapy field is to devise strategies to vaccinate the majority of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients who do not respond to immune-checkpoint blockade against their own individual tumor. Local tumor radiotherapy (RT) represents a promising partner for immunotherapy due to its ability to convert the tumor into an in situ vaccine by enhancing both, tumor antigens expression and release, and the production by irradiated cancer cells of inflammatory signals activating dendritic cells. However, multiple barriers exist in the tumor that preclude efficient in situ vaccination by RT, such as the upregulation of the “don’t-eat-me” signal provided by the CD47-SIRPα pathway. Indeed, CD47 expression correlates with poor-prognosis molecular subtypes, such as TNBC. Thus, Dr Lhuillier proposes to determine the effects of RT combined with SIRPα blockade on the phagocytic cells functions and on the development of anti-tumor immunity and abscopal responses in vivo using a TNBC mouse model.

Dr. Lhuillier obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Nantes (France) in 2010 and her master’s degree in immunology in 2012 from the University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris. She then joined the Gustave Roussy Institute and completed her PhD in 2016. Seeking to pursue a career in the cancer immunotherapy field, she joined Sandra Demaria’s laboratory at Weill Cornell Medicine for her postdoctoral training. Her current work focuses on exploring how to use radiation therapy as an adjuvant to generate an in situ vaccine for the treatment of breast cancers refractory to immune-checkpoint blockade.

Acknowledgement of Support
Receiving the AACR-TNBC Foundation Research Fellowship is a great honor and represents an excellent opportunity to achieve my research goals hoping that my work will advance our understanding of the mechanisms driving breast cancer resistance to treatment and provide the rationale for clinical translation of this novel approach in patients.