Areas of Research
- Immunology Research
- Immunotherapy Research
- Tumor Microenvironment Research
- Lung Cancer Research
The Schenkel Laboratory is broadly interested in understanding the relationship between T cell trafficking and T cell dysfunction in the context of cancer. Combining sophisticated, genetically engineered mouse models of cancer allows us to dissect the pathways and transcriptional networks that are engaged in T cells as they interact with and survey the local tumor microenvironment. The Schenkel Laboratory’s long-term objectives include to dissect mechanisms that drive T cell dysfunction, and to leverage our findings for next generation immunotherapies.
Jason M. Schenkel, M.D., Ph.D.
About Dr. Schenkel
Dr. Schenkel received his bachelor of science degree in Human Communication Sciences at Northwestern University outside of Chicago. While there, Dr. Schenkel got his first hands-on experience doing immunology research in Dr. Lena Al-Harthi's Laboratory at Rush University Medical Center, where he examined CD8 T cells in people with HIV. His time there ignited his passion for T cell immunology. Dr. Schenkel then matriculated in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Minnesota. He completed his Ph.D. studies in the laboratory of Dr. David Masopust, studying the location, differentiation, and function of resident memory CD8 T cells that develop after acute viral infection. Dr. Schenkel's work demonstrated that resident memory CD8 T cells, after sensing cognate antigen, orchestrated robust and diverse innate and adaptive immune responses that drove a local anti-pathogen state within a tissue.
After completing his M.D. and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Schenkel completed a residency in clinical pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a clinical fellowship in Transfusion Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Tyler Jacks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, Dr. Schenkel was focused on understanding the relationship between T cells in the tumor draining lymph node and tumor microenvironment in a mouse model of lung adenocarcinoma. Dr. Schenkel was able to demonstrate that the tumor draining lymph node contains a functional reservoir of tumor specific CD8 T cells that can be therapeutically harnessed to drive tumor regression.
In his independent position, Dr. Schenkel plans on continuing to study T cells in the context of cancer. He hopes to develop better tools and methodologies to try and understand the natural course of T cell immunity in tumors. Lessons learned will then hopefully be translated to help drive new therapies. Clinically, Dr. Schenkel will continue attending on the Transfusion Medicine service at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The Schenkel Lab uses genetically engineered mouse models of lung cancer to understand the intersection of T cell migration and dysfunction. T cells are products of their environment, and are heavily influenced by many factors, including interactions with both immune and non-immune cells, local cytokine gradients, nutrient availability, and stimulation by cognate peptide/MHC class I complexes. We seek to understand the lineage relationships between T cells in tumor draining lymphoid tissue and tumor lesions, and how T cells change during their journey from one location to another. We will pursue these research directions using multiparameter flow cytometry, single cell RNA-sequencing, immunofluorescence microscopy, and temporal approaches to identify when T cells have migrated into the tumor microenvironment. Our future directions will try to extend these studies into the context of metastasis, and to translate our findings into human disease.
For more information, please contact:
Jason M. Schenkel, M.D., Ph.D.