Immunology, Cancer Immunotherapy and Immune Metabolism

Section Leader
Vivek Verma, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Vivek Verma is an assistant professor at the Hormel Institute of the University of Minnesota. Verma Lab is interested in delineating the mechanisms of TCR mediated cell activation and immune cell exhaustion. This is achieved by using the pre-clinical disease models of chronic antigen stimulation such as cancers and viral/bacterial infections. Since, cellular metabolism has emerged as a major deciding-factor for immune cell function and exhaustion, using these models, lab is also interested in delineating the mechanisms that govern the substrate choice and metabolite shunting in immune cells. In fact, various cellular metabolites have been shown to interact with the cell signaling cascade and decide the functional aspects. Hence, one aspect of research in the lab is to understand the effects of cross talk between cell metabolites and cell signaling and finally its effect on memory, exhaustion and effector functions in immune cells.

Verma lab is also interested to understand the role of immune checkpoints (PD1/CTLA4/LAG-3) in limiting the immune response to cancers and to optimize the use of checkpoint blockers (anti-PD1/CTLA4) and immune-agonists (anti-OX40/GITR) for best therapeutic outcomes. Moreover, we want to decipher the mechanisms of immune resistance to various immune modulators and to devise the strategies to reverse this resistance. The lab seeks to answer these questions by using various in-vivo and in-vitro models of brain, lung and melanoma cancers.