USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Tumor Immunology & Microenvironment Program

The Tumor Immunology & Microenvironment Program (TIME) fosters fundamental scientific efforts in the area of host-tumor cell interactions. The overarching mission of the TIME Program is to discover basic mechanisms that control the interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment, leading to the identification of molecules or pathways that can be targeted for therapeutic interventions.

The program has three specific aims:

      • Investigate the fundamental mechanisms underlying cancer cell, immune cell and stroma cell interactions & communications.
      • Investigate the pathogenesis of cancer-inducing viruses and their immune escape mechanisms.
      • Investigate the mechanisms behind tumor immune escape and develop new approaches for cancer immunotherapy.

The program leaders are W. Martin Kast, PhD  who has recognized expertise in cancer virology, cancer immunology, and cancer immunotherapy, and Evanthia Roussos Torres, MD, PhD who has expertise in immune-oncology with a specific interest in breast cancer and the tumor immune suppressive microenvironment.  The program brings together 36 members from 12 departments in four schools at USC with expertise and research interests in inflammation, tumor-stroma interaction, metastasis, angiogenesis, Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), human papillomavirus (HPV) & hepatitis C (HCV)-mediated oncogenesis, and cancer immunotherapy. In the last five years, basic science discoveries by TIME members’ research has led to four investigator-initiated clinical trials in the TACS and CCR programs. Research by the members has a unique impact on specific populations of the LA County catchment area, particularly children (neuroblastoma and childhood ALL), Asians (liver cancer), and Hispanic women (HPV-induced cervical cancer). Also noteworthy is TIME-led cancer education of a very diverse group of students ranging from elementary school to post graduate school, in collaboration with CRTEC.

Program Leaders