Dr Simone Park

Doherty Institute

Targeting tissue-resident memory T cells in cancer immunotherapy

The immune system plays an essential role in opposing the development and growth of cancer. However, our understanding of how protective immune cells develop and function in tumours remains incomplete. This project seeks to determine how effective immune responses can be generated against solid tumours and whether manipulating local immune cells could serve as a new strategy to improve cancer treatments

Simone seeks to uncover the secrets of this natural symmetry, and boost the activity of immune cells known as white blood cells to make them more effective at fighting cancers. In particular, her research focuses on a type of immune cell that resides permanently in tissues of the body like the skin, lung or gut – without circulating through the bloodstream.

In earlier research, Simone has shown that these “tissue-resident” cells are efficient at preventing the development and spread of solid tumours like melanoma. She aims to understand how they develop and function, with the ultimate goal of developing better immunotherapies to fight solid cancer, possibly leading to a cure.

Simone has received several high-profile awards, including the VCCC Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research, the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Award and the inaugural Morgan Mansell Young Victorian Melanoma Researcher of the Year Award.