Kristen E. Pauken, Ph.D.
Areas of Research
- Cancer Biology
- Systems Biology
The Pauken lab seeks to understand how perturbing immune regulation by administering PD-1-based immunotherapy impacts CD8+ T cell fate and function both in the setting of protective anti-cancer responses, as well as pathogenic immune-driven toxicities. Our long-term goal is to develop strategies to uncouple the protective benefits of PD-1 immunotherapy from the pathogenic side effects, making immunotherapy safer and more effective for patients.
The Pauken lab utilizes mouse models of cancer and autoimmunity to interrogate: 1) the cellular and molecular drivers of CD8+ T cell fate and functional potential in the settings of cancer and autoimmunity, 2) how anatomical location interfaces with CD8+ T cell differentiation, and how these two factors impact sensitivity to immunotherapy agents such as PD-1 inhibitors, and 3) how the presence of one chronic disease state (e.g. cancer) influences T cell differentiation and function in other chronic disease states (e.g. autoimmunity), and how this ultimately impacts response to immunotherapy.
Our lab uses high dimensional flow cytometry, immunofluorescence microscopy, and single cell RNA seq to interrogate CD8+ T cell differentiation state and function in cancer and autoimmunity. Moreover, the lab utilizes the T cell receptor (TCR) sequence as a molecular barcode to enable focusing of analyses to the populations of highest interest to each disease setting. Projects in the Pauken lab can: exclusively focus on cancer, exclusively focus on autoimmunity, or combine the two to interrogate how multiple disease states in the same individual impact the ensuing immune response.