October 21, 2018
Wei Luo & Susan Kaech

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Susan Kaech

Susan Kaech aims to understand how memory T cells are produced during infection and vaccination, how they function and why they can fail to induce long-term immunity during immunization. Her lab has been a leader in using genetic and molecular tools to identify the genes and signaling molecules involved in generating two specific types of memory T cells, CD4 and CD8, from precursor cells during both acute and chronic viral infections. She and her team discovered more than half a dozen important regulatory genes, as well as several types of key molecules called cytokines, which influence memory T cell development. Kaech is also interested in how T cells are metabolically regulated, and how their differentiation and function can be altered by nutrient availability during infection and in tumors. In particular, she seeks to learn how T cell behavior is suppressed by tumors, in order to create better therapies for cancer using the body’s own immune system—an innovative and rapidly moving field called cancer immunotherapy.