A primary focus of our research is to study how macrophages sense and respond to changes in their microenvironment. Our published results indicate that a specific macrophage receptor, the class A scavenger receptor (SR-A) couples to signaling pathways that stimulate macrophage polarization toward an immune-suppressive phenotype. Our ongoing collaborative studies seek to define the role of SR-A in determining macrophage phenotype in the tumors and its effect on cancer growth and metastasis.
Another major area of collaborative research relates to understanding the molecular basis underlying morphologic differences that define aggressive vulvar squamous cell carcinoma (vSCC). We showed that vSCC displaying an infiltrative tumor morphology and a fibromyxoid stromal response are more aggressive than those with a pushing tumor morphology and lymphoplasmocytic stromal response. We are currently using multiplexed immunostaining approaches to correlate changes in stromal immune response with tumor biology and patient outcomes.