People

Principal Investigator

Melanie Rutkowski, PhD

Melanie Rutkowski, PhD

PI
Email: mr2ee@virginia.edu

My PhD was focused on understanding how extrinsic factors, such as stress, influenced both the host immune response and pathogenesis of a normally indolent microorganism. As a postdoc, I wanted to understand how cancer shapes the systemic immune environment, in the context of adaptive immunity to oncogenic retroviruses or genetic immune deficiencies. Because of my experience studying the immune response to pathogens and cancer, my focus shifted towards understanding how commensal microbes influence immune function during systemic diseases such as cancer.

Lab Members

Claire Rosean, PhD

Claire Rosean, PhD

Postdoc

I am interested in the potential role(s) of commensal microbiota in cancer metastasis. Antibiotics are prevalent in our society today, and chronic antibiotic use has been associated with adverse outcomes in multiple malignancies. I am currently investigating the effects of antibiotics on breast cancer development and progression in our autochthonous mouse model of inducible breast cancer. I am also investigating TLR5 signaling at mucosal surfaces to understand how this pattern recognition receptor is involved in systemic tumor-promoting inflammation for patients with ovarian cancer.

Tzu-Yu (Alkaid) Feng

Tzu-Yu (Alkaid) Feng

Graduate Student

“I am interested in understanding how genetic polymorphisms and the tumor microenvironment influence the function of tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells.”

Francesca Azar

Francesca Azar

Laboratory Specialist

I am interested in understanding how the composition of commensal microbes changes during various inflammatory conditions. Currently I am preparing libraries from stool samples to perform 16S sequencing and metagenomic analysis.

Former Lab Members

Carolina Gomez Grimaldi – Undergraduate Student
Reagan Bostic – Research Specialist
John Kearney – Laboratory Specialist
Magid Abdo – Undergraduate Student