Carson Lab

The Carson laboratory, led by William E. Carson III, at The Ohio State University is interested in the translation of basic science discoveries in the field of immunology into clinical treatments for cancer. Our research focuses on factors that influence the immune response to cancer cells, especially in the setting of breast cancer and malignant melanoma.  

The Carson laboratory focuses our research on three main areas.

The use of cytokines either alone or in combination with targeted agents to treat malignant melanoma tumors. The Carson lab is interested in the mechanism of interferon-alpha and ways to enhance its antitumor actions. Targeted agents of interest to our group include proteasome inhibitors, antiangiogenic agents such as bevacizumab, and several tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Notably, many of these agents display synergistic antitumor activity when combined with immune-based treatments.  

The use of cytokines to enhance the actions of antitumor monoclonal antibodies (mAb). We have observed that co-administration of IL-12 can potentiate the antitumor actions of an anti-HER2/neu mAb (trastuzumab or Herceptin) that is used to treat patients with HER2/neu-expressing breast cancers. This data has served as the basis for several NCI-sponsored phase I clinical trials that employ mAbs in combination with IL-12. Recent work from our lab indicates that other immune stimulatory agents may be able to augment the immune response to antitumor mAbs. Agents that are under investigation include toll-like receptor agonists and novel cytokines such as IL-21.   

The effects of stress on the immune system of patients diagnosed with cancer. We hypothesize that stress can significantly inhibit the host immune response in the setting of cancer and have discovered that natural killer (NK) cell function provides an important "window" into this process. We are collaborating with Barbara Andersen, PhD, in the Department of Psychology, who is investigating the effects of behavioral and psychological interventions on the immune function of women with stage II and III breast cancer. Our goal is to define the mechanisms that underlie the altered immune response of cancer patients and explore ways to reverse this inhibition to enhance the effects of immune-based therapies.

Our laboratory is well suited for the physician-scientist in training or postdoctoral researcher interested in discovery for the sake of clinical application. 

Training

Training in Tumor Immunology

Study the immune system and how it fights cancer!

The Ohio State T32 Training Program in Tumor Immunology is dedicated to the education of post-doctoral researchers in this area.

  • Receive on-on-one instruction from an established investigator
  • Tailor your coursework
  • Learn about genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics
  • Learn grant-writing and project management
  • Travel to scientific meetings

Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or green card holder and be willing to spend two years performing basic research in an immunology lab at The Ohio State University.

Apply Now

Women, minority and disabled applicants are especially encouraged to apply. Applications will be accepted through 6:00pm on Monday, June 2nd, 2015. Start date will be July 1st, 2015.

View a list of the T32 Mentors.

Contact Dr. Carson at william.carson@osumc.edu.

Postdoctoral Pelotonia Fellowship Program

The Pelotonia Fellowship Program provides two-year research fellowships for up to 12 of the brightest and most promising postdoctoral candidates who want to help cure cancer. Cancer is a complex disease and curing it will take a multidisciplinary effort. So, no matter what the field of study, from the traditional science fields to fields such as history, business and computer science, any postdoctoral candidate may apply.

Lab Updates

December 2014

Amanda Harper and Elizabeth McMichael were chosen to give talks at the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Retreat. Amanda Harper gave her talk on “Monocyte Expression of MICA Enhances the Natural Killer Cell Response to Antibody-Coated Tumor Targets.” Elizabeth McMichael presented “IL-21 Enhances Natural Killer Cell Activity Against Cetuximab-Coated Pancreatic Tumor Cells.”

Joseph Markowtiz, MD/PhD, attended the American Associated for Cancer Research (AACR) Immunology meeting in Florida and presented his poster entitled “Nitroaspirins Abrogate Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cell Inhibition of Dendritic Cell Antigen Presentation to CD4+ T Cells in Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.”

Carson lab first-year IBGP graduate student Megan Duggan was awarded a Career Development Grant from the Council of Graduate Students.

The entire Carson Lab participated in the OSUCCC – James’ Hope for the Holidays program and helped make Christmas gifts possible for a family of four.

November 2014

Amanda Harper attended the Society for Immunology of Cancer (SITC) conference and gave an oral presentation of her work entitled “Monocyte Expression of MICA Enhances the Natural Killer Cell Response to Antibody-Coated Tumor Targets.”

October 2014

Gonzalo Olaverria-Salavaggione and Tiffany Noel joined the Carson lab as undergraduate volunteers.

Amanda Harper, an MD/PhD candidate in the Carson Lab, gave a talk at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Translational Therapeutics retreat entitled “A Factor VII-IgG Fc Fusion Protein and Interleukin-15 to Promote Natural Killer Cell Activity Against Metastatic Melanoma.”

Elizabeth McMichael, a PhD candidate in the Carson lab, presented a poster at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Translational Therapeutics retreat entitled “Enhancement of Cetuximab-Induced Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity with Lenalidomide in Advanced Solid Tumors: A Phase I Trial.”

Prashant Trikha, PhD, a senior researcher in the Carson lab, presented a poster at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Translational Therapeutics retreat entitled “Modulation of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cell Function with Ibrutinib, a Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor.”

Nicholas Latchana, MD, a surgical resident in the Carson lab, presented a poster at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Translational Therapeutics retreat entitled “Classification of Indeterminate Melanocytic Lesions by MicroRNA Profiling.”

IBGP first-year graduate student Leslee Sprague began rotating in the lab. Sprague is working on a project looking at the genes involved in Carson’s clinical trial OSU-07033, “A Pilot Study of IFN-alpha-2b Dose Reduction with Dose Optimization” in patients with melanoma.

September 2014

Amanda Harper, an MD/PhD candidate in the Carson Lab, presented her work entitled “Characterization of IL-2 Receptor Alpha Expression on Dual Stimulated Natural Killer Cells” for the Medical Scientist Student Organization retreat.

Andrew Stiff, an MD/PhD candidate in the Carson Lab, presented a talk entitled “Using Cancer Epigenetics to Enhance the Therapeutic Potential of Reovirus in Multiple Myeloma” for the Pelotonia committee.

Nicholas Latchana, MD, a surgical resident in the Carson lab, presented a talk entitled “Classification of Indeterminate Melanocytic Lesions by MicroRNA Profiling” at the Perspectives in Melanoma XVIII conference in Dublin, Ireland.

August 2014

The Carson lab published a paper entitled “Adjuvant Vaccine Immunotherapy of Resected, Clinically Node-Negative Melanoma: Long-Term Outcome and Impact of HLA Class I Antigen Expression on Overall Survival” in the journal Cancer Immunology Research.

July 2014

Andrew Stiff joined the Carson Lab as a graduate research fellow in order to complete the PhD portion of his dual MD/PhD degree.

Katia Fernandez-Soto presented a poster entitled, “IL-21 Enhances the Natural Killer Cell Response to Cetuximab-Coated Pancreatic Tumor Cells” at the end-of-the-summer SUCCESS student research forum.

Katia, Smita and Akaansha completed their summer research projects and returned to their home institutions. Good luck!

June 2014

Andrew Stiff, an MD/PhD student, rotated in the Carson Lab. He worked on a project examining the effects of the NRAS gene in melanoma.

Katia Fernandez-Soto, an undergraduate student from the University of Notre Dame, joined the Carson lab for the summer to work on a project involving the Folate Fc receptor.

Smita Madhukar, an undergraduate student from IISER-Pune in India, joined the Carson Lab to complete a summer research project in collaboration with Pelotonia and her home institution.

Akaansha Ganju, an M2 from NEOMED, joined the Carson lab to complete a summer research project.

May 2014

Megan Duggan, former Carson Lab employee, matriculated to graduate school in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and joined the lab as a graduate research fellow.

Nicholas Latchana, MD, a surgical resident in the Carson lab, presented on his project, “miR-21 Enhances Melanoma Invasiveness via Inhibition of Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases 3 Expression: In Vivo`Effects of miR 21 Inhibitor” at the OSU Department of Surgery Research Day. Latchana also presented his poster entitled “Classification of Indeterminate Melanocytic Lesions by MicroRNA Profiling” at the American Cancer Society (ACS) Ohio Annual Chapter Meeting in Cleveland.

April 2014

Undergraduates Jyh-haur Vincent Hsu and Gregory Kemper have been awarded the Undergraduate Education Research Fellowship.

The Carson Lab was well represented at the Wexner Medical Center’s annual Research Day with several poster presentations including: general surgery resident Nicholas Latchana, MD, entitled “Classification of Indeterminate Melanocytic Lesions by Micro RNA Profiling”; postdoctoral researcher Joseph Markowitz, MD/PhD, entitled “Immune Suppressive Myeloid Cells Are Induced During Disease Progression in Patients with Advanced Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma”; MD/PhD trainee Amanda Harper,  “Monocyte Expression of MICA Enhances the Natural Killer Cell Response to Antibody-Coated Tumor Targets”; PhD candidate Elizabeth McMichael, “Enhancement of Cetuximab-Induced Antibody Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity With Lenalidomide in Advanced Solid Tumors: A Phase I Trial.”

Prashant Trikha, PhD, attended the 2014 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in San Diego. Trikha’s abstract for this meeting was “MDSC-Generated Nitric Oxide Leads to an Impairment of NK Cell Functions in Metastatic Melanoma Patients.”

Joseph Markowitz, MD/PhD, also attended the 2014 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in San Diego.

Undergraduate Gregory Kemper attended the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Kentucky.

Nicholas Latchana, MD, a surgical resident in the Carson lab, presented his poster entitled “Classification of Indeterminate Melanocytic Lesions by MicroRNA Profiling” at the OSUWMC 12th Annual Trainee Research Day.

March 2014

Amanda Harper (MD/PhD-in-training) won first place at the annual Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Winter Retreat for her talk entitled “Utilizing a Factor VII-IgG1 Fc Fusion Protein and Interleukin-15 to Promote Natural Killer Cell Activity in the Treatment of Cancer.”

Undergraduate student researcher Gregory Kemper won second place in a poster presentation at the Natural and Mathematical Sciences Research Forum for his poster entitled “The Combination of MLN2238 with Inferferon-α Results in Synergistic Cell Death in Melanoma.”

Undergraduate student Jyh-haur Vincent Hsu presented a poster at the Denman Forum entitled “Targeting Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in the Tumor Microenvironment.”

Undergraduate Gregory Kemper presented his poster “The Combination of MLN2238 With Inferferon-α Results in Synergistic Cell Death in Melanoma” at the Denman Forum.

Carson Lab undergraduate Kallan Opheim was awarded the Mayer’s Summer Research Scholarship for the summer of 2014.

February 2014

The Carson Lab welcomed a new undergraduate volunteer Sarvani Uppati.

Joseph Markowitz, MD/PhD, attended the 2014 Translational Research Cancer Centers Consortium in Seven Springs, Pa., where he presented “Inhibition of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in Pancreas Cancer.”

Nicholas Latchana, MD, a surgical resident in the Carson lab, presented on his project, "Classification of Indeterminate Melanocytic Lesions by MicroRNA Profiling" at the Academic Surgical Conress in San Diego, Calif.

January 2014

The Clinical Trials Office opened a study led by William Carson, MD, and Ronald Glaser, PhD, entitled “A pilot study of beta-blockers in patients with advanced cancer." This study is a collaboration with Philip Binkley, MD, Kari Kendra, MD, Stanley Lemeshow, PhD, and Thomas Olencki, DO.

CCC Members

William Carson, III, MD

Dr. Carson is a surgical oncologist with clinical interests in breast cancer, melanoma and general cancer surgery. His primary research focus is the immunotherapy of tumors, which can be thought of as using drugs and other treatments to boost the human immune system's innate ability to fight tumor.

Read More

Robert Wesolowski, MD

Dr. Wesolowski's research interests include breast cancer immunology, in particular myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and early phase trials of experimental therapeutics. MDSC are important inhibitors of anti-tumor immune response.

Read More

Researchers and Lab Staff

Zhiwei Hu

Zhiwei Hu, MD/PhD

Zhiwei is a Research Associate Professor in Surgical Oncology at Ohio State. Dr. Hu is one of first few scientists who proposed to target both the tumor cells and tumor neovasculature.

Nicholas Latchana

Nicholas Latchana, MD

Nicholas is a part of the Masters of Medical Science Program, Surgical Resident, in the Carson lab. His research focus is on the role of MicroRNAs in melanoma.

Kala Levine

Kala Levine, BS

Kala is the laboratory manager and research assistant in the Carson lab. She enjoyed conducting biochemistry research during college and joined the Carson Lab to get back into academic research. She believes that Dr. Carson’s translational research is fascinating and necessary.

Joseph Markowitz

Joseph Markowitz, MD/PhD

Joseph is a Pelotonia Postdoctoral Fellow in the Carson lab. His research focus is on inhibiting immune suppressor cells in pancreatic cancer.

Prashant Trikha

Prashant Trikha, PhD

Prashant is a Senior Research Scientist in the Carson lab. The focus of his research is to investigate the role of signaling pathways that contribute to the expansion of immune cells in tumor microenvironment. Currently, he is investigating the role of signaling pathways that contribute to the expansion of immunosuppressive myeloid cells (MDSC) in the tumor stroma and understanding the molecular mechanisms that contribute to suppression of natural killer cell (NK) functions in cancer patients. Furthermore, he is conducting pre-clinical studies using immunotherapeutic agents (antibodies and cytokines) that can attenuate tumor growth by augmenting NK cell activity.

Students

Lakhvir Atwal

Lakhvir Atwal

Lakhvir is an Undergraduate Research Assistant is the Carson lab.

Megan Duggan

Megan Duggan, BS

Megan is part of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at the Carson lab. Her current research involves the GTPase NRAS, its signaling pathways and its potential role in BRAF inhibitor-resistant melanoma.

Amanda Harper

Amanda Harper, BS

Amanda is part of the Medical Scientist Training Program in the Carson lab. As a MD/PhD trainee in the Carson laboratory, she is studying the role of natural killer (NK) cells in the immune response to cancer. In particular, she is interested in developing therapeutic strategies to promote NK cell activity in the setting of melanoma and triple negative breast cancer.

Vince Hsu

Vincent (Jyh-Haur) Hsu

Vincent is an Undergraduate Research Assistant is the Carson lab.

Liz McMichael

Elizabeth McMichael, BS

Elizabeth is a part of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at the Carson lab. She is currently investigating the role of combination immunotherapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, the upregulation of the IL-21 receptor on natural killer (NK) cells following FcR stimulation, the role of MDSCs in melanoma, the creation of novel conjugate antibodies for the treatment of folate receptor positive cancers, looking at correlative studies for several clinical trials ongoing at Ohio State, and the role of “super” cytokines in combination with mAb therapy.

Tiffany Noel

Tiffany is an Undergraduate Research Assistant is the Carson lab.

Kallan Opheim

Kallan Opheim

Kallan is an Undergraduate Research Assistant is the Carson lab.

Nico Salavaggione

Nico Salavaggione

Nico is an Undergraduate Research Assistant is the Carson lab.

Andrew Stiff

Andrew Stiff, BS

Andrew is part of the Medical Scientist Training Program in the Carson lab. He is currently investigating cancer immunology with an emphasis on understanding mechanisms of tumor induced immune suppression. Through better understanding of these mechanisms, the goal is to be able to design more optimal immune based therapies for patients.

Sarvani Uppati

Sarvani Uppati

Sarvani is an Undergraduate Research Assistant is the Carson lab.


Publications

Please enter a keyword (i.e. Name, Research Interest) or choose a Research Program

OR

Please enter a keyword (i.e. Name, Cancer Type) or choose a Principle Investigator

OR

Search for Clinical Trials

Find a Scientific Publication