Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and in Virginia. Our investigators, in partnership with scientists across VCU, are working to better understand and leverage the ways the immune system recognizes and destroys cancer cells and tumors. 

Our basic science research examines the interaction between biological factors and cancer-causing mutations, such as the role of bile acids in the liver’s signaling pathways and how they contribute to liver cancer and biliary tumor growth. Translational studies aim to improve cancer treatment through adoptive T-cell therapy and other immunotherapies. 

In collaboration with partners such as Massey Cancer Center and the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health, our faculty, students and trainees conduct cutting-edge studies spanning the following areas related to cancer biology and immunology:  

    • Immunobiology of breast cancer
    • Immunobiology of liver cancer
    • Immunotherapy and vaccine development
    • Microbes and carcinogenesis
    • Tumor biology and cell signaling 

Labs and Facilities

As members of the broader VCU research community, students and faculty in the department have access to state-of-the-art core facilities across the MCV Campus. This includes the Flow Cytometry Shared Resource, which offers multiple flow cytometers and other cutting-edge instruments and technologies.

Learn more about core laboratories and other resources

Faculty

Explore faculty research interests and recent publications by clicking the photos below.

Wook-Jin Chae, Ph.D.

Wook-Jin Chae, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Wook-Jin Chae, Ph.D.

Wook-Jin Chae, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Harrison Scholar / CCTR  Scholar 
Massey Cancer Center / Phillips Oral Health Research Institute

Research Interests
    • Pathological mechanisms of oral health diseases (periodontitis and gingivitis)
    • Regulatory mechanisms of pulmonary injury, inflammation and repair via Wnt and Dickkopf1
    • Mechanisms of Dickkopf1-mediated tumorigenesis and metastasis
    • Chemical/oral bacteria-mediated inflammation and its implication in oral cancer

Email: wook-jin.chae@vcuhealth.org

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Publications

Phillip Hylemon, Ph.D.

Phillip Hylemon, Ph.D.

Professor

Phillip Hylemon, Ph.D.

Phillip Hylemon, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Research Interests
    • Gut microbiome’s role in health and disease
    • Bile acid metabolism by gut bacteria
    • Bile acid-activated cell signaling pathways and liver disease
    • Clostridium difficile, endogenous antibiotics and secondary bile acids

Email: phillip.hylemon@vcuhealth.org

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Publications

Masoud H. Manjili, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Masoud H. Manjili, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Professor

Masoud H. Manjili, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Masoud H. Manjili, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Research Interests
    • Immunotherapeutic targeting of cancer dormancy
    • Hepatic immunological patterns associated with fatty liver disease and liver cancer
    • The adaptation model of immunity

Email: masoud.manjili@vcuhealth.org

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Publications

Rebecca K. Martin, Ph.D.

Rebecca K. Martin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Rebecca K. Martin, Ph.D.

Rebecca K. Martin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Director, Flow Cytometry Shared Resource, Massey Cancer Center
Scientific Director, VCU Post-baccalaureate Research and Education Program

Email: rebecca.martin@vcuhealth.org

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Publications

Rebecca Martin Lab

Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D.

Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D.

Lisa S. Shock, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Graduate Program Director

Research Interests:
    • Epigenetics
    • Mitochondria and cell metabolism
    • Cancer biology

Email: lisa.shock@vcuhealth.org

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Publications