Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy

Image Credit: Alpine BioVentures


We are interested in understanding the mechanisms that cancers have evolved to suppress the generation of tumor antigen-specific immune responses and how this knowledge can be exploited for the development of novel and more effective cancer immunotherapy strategies. This work involves the utilization of both autochthonous transgenic tumor model systems as well as clinical specimens to develop novel strategies to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapies while also developing predictive biomarkers to better guide the management of cancer patients with these agents. We strive to translate our understanding of the fundamental biochemical and metabolic pathways within the tumor microenvironment that are critical for driving immune evasion and resistance into early phase clinical trial testing.


Our work utilizes a variety of techniques and methodologies that span the breadth of basic biological research. This work integrates studies based on both 1) transgenic mouse tumor models that are monitored using bioluminescence and micro-CT imaging and 2) a variety of clinical specimens.

Our current areas of focus include:

  1. Investigating mechanisms of adaptive or acquired immunotherapy resistance in cancer
  2. Elucidating mechanisms of dendritic cell tolerization in the tumor microenvironment and how these processes may contribute to immunotherapy resistance
  3. Development of novel pharmacologic and genetic strategies to overcome immunotherapy resistance
  4. Investigating mechanisms contributing to select immunotherapy-associated toxicities

Lab Updates

  • trending_up Nagendra Yarla, Ph.D. joins the Hanks Lab!

    Dr. Yarla will be expanding the labs' efforts in investigating immunotherapy resistance mechanisms in melanoma and the gastrointestinal malignancies.

  • trending_up Linda Cao joins the Hanks Lab!

    Linda is currently a Duke undergraduate student in the Biology and Global Health Programs. She will provide key support to the lab while also spearheading her own project in tumor immunology.

  • trending_up Y-Van Nguyen, B.S. joins the Hanks Lab!

    Y-Van is a recent graduate from the Biology program at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She will play a major role in supporting our work in tumor-mediated dendritic cell tolerogenesis.

  • local_atm The Hanks Lab receives ASCO/CCF funding!

    The Hanks Lab has been awarded the 2021 Advanced Clinical Research Award in Tumor Immunotherapy to investigate the role of the tumor NLRP3 inflammasome in immunotherapy resistance based on an upcoming investigator-initiated clinical trial in anti-PD-1-resistant melanoma conducted in collaboration with Dr. April Salama.

  • local_atm The Hanks Lab receives DoD funding!

    The Hanks Lab has received an Idea Award from the DoD Melanoma Program to investigate and characterize tumor-mediated dendritic cell tolerization.

  • local_atm The Hanks Lab receives NIH R01 funding!

    The Hanks Lab has been awarded a NIH/NCI R01 grant to investigate a tumor-intrinsic mechanism of immunotherapy toxicity.

  • local_atm The Hanks Lab receives Merck OTSP funding!

    The Hanks Lab receives funding to investigate a tumor-intrinsic mechanism of adaptive resistance to pembrolizumab in gastroesophageal cancer.

  • trending_up Mandy Wang, B.S. joins the Hanks Lab!

    Mandy is a Duke graduate student that will be investigating the role of tumor exosomes in the tolerization of dendritic cells in the tumor microenvironment.

  • trending_up Fang Liu, M.S., M.D. joins the Hanks Lab!

    Fang Liu has accepted the position for our new Lab Manager and Senior Lab Technician position. Fang brings with her considerable experience in biomedical research including special expertise in ChIPseq, RNAseq, and CRISPR.

  • local_atm The Hanks Lab receives NIH R01/R37 funding!

    Hanks Lab has received NIH funding to support further research to investigate the role of the PD-L1:NLRP3 signaling axis in adaptive resistance to anti-PD-1 antibody immunotherapy.


Pharmacological Wnt Ligand Inhibition Overcomes Key Tumor-mediated Resistance Pathways to Anti-PD-1 Checkpoint Inhibitor Immunotherapy.
DeVito, N., Sturdivant, M., Xiao, C., Thievanthiran, B., Plebanek, M., Salama, A.K.S., Beasley, G.M., Hotlzhausen, A., Novotny-Diermayr, V., Strickler, J.M., Hanks, B.A.
(2021) Cell Reports. 35(5): 109071. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109071. PMID: 33951424.

Three-year survival, correlates and salvage therapies in patients receiving first-line pembrolizumab for advanced Merkel cell carcinoma.
Nghiem, P., Bhatia, S., Lipson, E., Sharfman, W., Kudchadkar, R., Brohl, A., Friedlander, P., Daud, A., Kluger, H., Reddy, S., Boulmay, B., Riker, A., Burgess, M., Hanks, B.A., Olencki, T., Kendra, K., Church, C., Akaike, T., Ramchurren, N., Shinohara, M., Salim, B., Taube, J., Jensen, E., Kalabis, M., Fling, S., Moreno, B., Sharon, E., Cheever, M., Topalian, S.
(2021) J ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 9(4): e002478. April. doi: 10.1136/jit-2021-002478. PMID: 33879601.

The State of Melanoma: Emergent Challenges and Opportunities.
Atkins, M.B., Fisher, D.E., Tsao, H., Gerhsenwald, J.E., Grossman, D., Curiel-Lewandrowski, C., Leachman, S.A., Ferris, L.K., Nelson, K.C., Jeter, J.M., Swetter, S.M., Aguirre-Ghiso, J.A., Weeraratna, A.T., Soengas, M.S., Hernando, E., Sullivan, R.J., Herlyn, M., Flaherty, K., Tawbi, H.A., Sosman, J.A., Fox, B.A., Hanks, B.A., Khleif, S.N., Daud, A.I., Chapman, P.B., Sondak, V.K., Chandra, S., Kirkwood, J.M., Johnson, D.J., Eroglu, Z., Pavlick, A.C., Gibney, G.T., Mays, D., Cassidy, P.B., Hanniford, D., Merlino, G.
(2021) Clin Cancer Res. Jan 7. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-4092. PMID: 33414132.

Flt3 Ligand Significantly Augments Immune Responses to a Dendritic Cell Targeting anti-DEC-205-NY-ESO-1 Vaccine through Expansion of Dendritic Cell Subsets.
Bhardwaj, N., Friedlander, P., Pavlick, A., Ernstoff, M., Gastman, B., Hanks, B.A., Curti, B., Albertini, M.R., Luke, J., Blazquez, A., Balan, S., Bedognetti, D., Beechem, J., Crocker, A., D’Amico, L., Danaher, P., Davis, T., Hawthorne, T., Hess, B., Keler, T., Lundgren, L., Morishima, C., Ramchurren, N., Rinchai, D., Salazar, A., Salim, B., Sharon, E., Wang, E., Warren, S., Yellin, M., Disis, M., Cheever, M., Fling, S.
(2020) Nature Cancer. 1: 1204-1217. November 16, 2020.

SITC Cancer Immunotherapy Biomarkers Resource Document: Resources and Useful Tools - A Compass in the Land of Biomarker Discovery.
Hu-Lieskovan, S., Bhaumik, S., Dhodapkar, K., Grivel, J.C., Gupta, S., Hanks, B.A., Janetski, S., Kleen, T.O., Koguchi, Y., Lund, A., Maccalli, C., Mahnke, Y., Novosaidly, R., Selvan, S., Sims, T., Zhao, Y., Maeker, H.T.
(2020) J ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 8(2):e000705. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2020-000705. PMID: 33268350.

Tumor Mutational Burden as a Predictor of Immunotherapy Response: Is More Always Better.
Strickler, J.H., Hanks, B.A., Khasraw, M.
(2020) Clin Cancer Res. Nov 16:clinccanres.3054.2020. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-3054. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33199494.

Ipilimumab and Radiation in Patients with High Risk Resected or Regionally Advanced Melanoma.
Salama, A.K.S., Palta, M., Rushing, C.N., Selim, M.A., Lineey, K.N., Czito, B.G., Yoo, D.S., Hanks, B.A., Beasley, G.M., Mosca, P., Dumbauld, C., Steadman, K.N., Yi, J.S., Weinhold, K.J., Tyler, D.S., Lee, W.T., Brizel, D.M.
(2020) Clin Cancer Res. Nov 10:clincancres.2452.2020. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-2452. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33172894.

Higher BMI, but not sarcopenia, is associated with pembrolizumab-related toxicity in patients with advanced melanoma.
Hu, J.B., Ravichandran, S., Rushing, C., Beasley, G.M., Hanks, B.A., Jung, S.H., Salama, A.K.S., Ho, L., and Mosca, P.J.
(2020) Anticancer Res. 40(9): 5245-5254. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.14528. PMID: 32878813.

Dissecting the immune landscape of tumor draining lymph nodes in melanoma with high-plex spatially resolved protein detection.
Beasley, G.M., Therien, A.D., Holl, E.K., Al-Rohil, R., Selim, M.A., Farrow, N.E., Pan, L., Haynes, P., Tyler, D.S., Hanks, B.A., Nair, S.K.
(2020) Cancer Immunol Immunother. Aug 19. doi: 10.1007/s00262-020-02698-2. PMID: 32814992.

Role of Dendritic Cell Metabolic Reprograming in Tumor Immune Evasion.
Plebanek, M., Sturdivant, M., DeVito, N., and Hanks, B.A.
(2020) International Journal Immunology. May 25. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxaa036. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32449776

A Tumor-intrinsic PD-L1-NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling Pathway Drives Resistance to Anti-PD-1 Immunotherapy.
Thievanthiran, B., Evans, K., DeVito, N., Plebanek, M., Sturdivant, M., Holtzhausen, A., Wachsmuth, L.P., Salama, A.K.S., Kang, Y., Hsu, D., Star, M., Nixon, A., Hanks, B.A.
(2020) Journal of Clinical Investigation. Pii: 133055. doi: 10.1172/JCI133055. PMID: 32017708.

Role of Tumor-Mediated Dendritic Cell Tolerization in Immune Evasion.
DeVito NC, Plebanek MP, Theivanthiran B, Hanks BA.
(2019) Front Immunol. Dec 10;10:2876. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.02876. eCollection 2019. Review. PMID: 31921140

Stromal Fibroblasts Mediate Anti-PD-1 Antibody Resistance via MMP-9 and Dictate TGF-β Inhibitor Therapy Sequencing in Melanoma.
Zhao, F., Xiao, C., Evans, K., DeVito, N., Theivanthiran, B., Holtzhausen, A., Siska, P.J., Blobe, G.C., and Hanks, B.A.
(2018) Cancer Immunology Research. 6(12): 1459-1471. Sept doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-18-0086. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 30209062. In Press.


Paracrine Wnt5a-β-catenin Signaling Triggers a Metabolic Switch that Drives Dendritic Cell Tolerization and Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase Enzymatic Activity in the Melanoma Microenvironment.
Zhao, F., Xiao, C., Evans, K., Theivanthiran, T., DeVito, N., Holtzhausen, A., Liu, J., Liu, X., Boczkowski, D., Nair, S., Locasale, J.W., and Hanks, B.A.
(2018) Immunity. 48(1): 147-160. PMID: 29343435.

Identifying baseline immune-related biomarkers to predict clinical outcome of immunotherapy.
Gnjatic, S., Bronte, V., Brunet, L.R.; Butler, M.O., Disis, M., Galon, J., Hakansson, L.G., Hanks, B.A., Karanikas, V., Khleif, S., Kirkwood, J.M., Miller, L.D., Schendel, D.J., Tanneau, I., Wigginton, J.M., and Butterfield, L.
(2017) J ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 5:44 PMID: 28515944

Genetic Risk Analysis of a Patient with Fulminant Autoimmune Type I Diabetes Mellitus Secondary to Combination Ipilimumab/Nivolumab Immunotherapy.
Lowe, J.R., Perry, D.J., Salama, A.K., Mathews, C.E., Moss, L.G. and Hanks, B.A.
(2016) J ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 4:89. PMID: 28031819.

Safety and Efficacy of Radiation Therapy in Advanced Melanoma Patients Treated with Ipilimumab.
Qin, R., Olson, A., Singh, B., Thomas, S., Wolf, S., Bhavsar, N.A., Hanks, B.A., Salama, J.K., Salama, A.K.
(2016) Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 96(1): 72-77. PMID: 27375168.

Immune Evasion Pathways and the Design of Dendritic Cell-based Cancer Vaccines.
Hanks B.A.
(2016) Discov Med. 21(114):135-142. PMID: 27011049.

Melanoma-derived Wnt5a Promotes Local Dendritic-Cell Expression of IDO and Immunotolerance: Opportunities for Pharmacologic Enhancement of Immunotherapy.
Holtzhausen A., Zhao F., Evans K., Tsutsui M., Orabona C., Tyler D.S. and Hanks B.A.
(2015) Cancer Immunol. Res. 3(9):1082-95. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-14-0167. Epub 2015 Jun 3. PMID: 26041736.

Rapid complete response of metastatic melanoma in a patient undergoing ipilimumab immunotherapy in the setting of active ulcerative colitis.
Bostwick A., Salama A. and Hanks B.A.
(2015) J Immunother Cancer 3:19. doi: 10.1186/s40425-015-0064-2. eCollection 2015. PMID: 25992290.

Early Carcinogenesis Involves the Establishment of Immune Privilege via Intrinsic and Extrinsic Regulation of Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1: Translational Implications in Cancer Immunotherapy.
Holtzhausen A., Zhao F., Evans K.S. and Hanks B.A.
(2014) Front Immunol. 5:438. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2014.00438. eCollection 2014. PMID: 25339948.

Immunotherapy following regional chemotherapy treatment of advanced extremity melanoma.
Jiang B.S., Beasley G.M., Speicher P.J., Mosca P.J., Morse M.A., Hanks B.A., Salama A. and Tyler D.S.
(2014) Ann Surg Oncol. doi: 10.1245/s10434-014-3671-0. Epub 2014 Apr 4. PMID: 24700302.

Type III TGF-β receptor downregulation generates an immunotolerant tumor microenvironment.
Hanks B.A., Holtzhausen A., Evans K., Jamieson R., Gimpel P., Campbell O.M., Hector-Greene M., Sun L., Tewari A., George A., Starr M., Nixon, Augustine C., Beasley G., Tyler D.S., Osada T., Morse M.A., Ling L., Lyerly H.K., and Blobe G.C.
(2013) J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI65745. Epub 2013 Aug 8. PMID: 23925295.

Improved time to progression for transarterial chemoembolization compared with transarterial embolization for patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.
Morse M.A., Hanks B.A., Suhocki P., Doan P.L., Liu E.A., Frost P., Bernard S.A., Tsai A., Moore D.T., O’Neil B.H.
(2012) Clin Colorectal Cancer. 11(3):185-90. doi: 10.1016/j.clcc.2011.11.003. Epub 2012 Jan 26. PMID: 22280845.

Pharmacological inhibition of TGFβ as a strategy to augment the antitumor immune response.
Hanks B.A., Morse M.A.
(2010) Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 11(12):1342-53. PMID: 21154116.

Enhanced activation of human dendritic cells by inducible CD40 and Toll-like receptor-4 ligation.
Lapteva N., Seethammagari M.R., Hanks B.A., Jiang J., Levitt J.M., Slawin K.M., Spencer D.M.
(2007) Cancer Res. 67(21):10528-37. PMID: 17974997.

Re-engineered CD40 receptor enables potent pharmacological activation of dendritic-cell cancer vaccines in vivo.
Hanks B.A., Jiang J., Singh R.A., Song W., Barry M., Huls M.H., Slawin K.M., Spencer D.M.
(2005) Nat Med. 11(2):130-7. Epub 2005 Jan 23. PMID: 15665830.

Template-based docking of a prolactin receptor proline-rich motif octapeptide to FKBP12: implications for cytokine receptor signaling.
Soman K.V., Hanks B.A., Tien H., Chari M.V., O’Neal K.D., Morrisett J.D.
(1997) Protein Sci. 6(5):999-1008. PMID: 9144770.

Comparison of the functional differences for the homologous residues within the carboxy phosphate and carbamate domains of carbamoyl phosphate synthetase.
Javid-Majd F., Stapleton M.A., Harmon M.F., Hanks B.A., Mullins L.S., Raushel F.M.
(1996) Biochemistry. 35(45):14362-9. PMID: 8916923.

Role of conserved residues within the carboxy phosphate domain of carbamoyl phosphate synthetase.
Stapleton M.A., Javid-Majd F., Harmon M.F., Hanks B.A., Grahmann J.L., Mullins L.S., Raushel F.M.
(1996) Biochemistry. 35(45):14352-61. PMID: 8916922.

Meeting Abstracts and Presentations

Investigation of Wnt Ligand Signaling Regulators as a Predictor of Anti-PD-1 Response in Metastatic Melanoma.
DeVito, N.C., Sturdivant, M., Wachsmuth, L.P., Strickler, J.H., Beasley, G., Al-Rohil, R., Salama, A.K.S., Hanks, B.A.
(2020) SITC Annual Virtual Meeting. Abstract #P425. Poster Presentation.

Targeting a Tumor Intrinsic PD-L1-NLRP3 Signaling Pathway to Overcome Adaptive Resistance to Anti-PD-1 Antibody Immunotherapy.
Hanks, B.
(2020) Immuno-Oncology Virtual Summit. October 20, 2020

Rise of the Machines: AI in Predicting Immunotherapy Outcomes.
Hanks, B.
(2020) Annual ASCO Virtual Meeting. Clinical Science Symposium.

Tumor-mediated Dendritic Cell Tolerization via Metabolic Reprogramming.
Hanks, B.
(2019) Japanese Society of Immunology Annual Meeting. Hamamatsu, Japan. December 10, 2019

A Tumor PD-L1-NLRP3-TLR4 Signaling Pathway Drives Adaptive Resistance to Anti-PD-1 Immunotherapy.
Theivanthiran, B., Evans, K.S., DeVito, N.C., Plebanek, M., Sturdivant, M., Holtzhausen, A., Wachsmuth, L., Salama, A.K.S., Kang, Y., Hsu, D., Balko, D., Johnson, D.B., Starr,M., Nixon, A., Hanks, B.A.
(2019) SITC Annual Meeting. Washington, DC. Abstract #P541. Poster Presentation. November 8, 2019

Targeting Wnt Ligand Signaling as a Strategy for Overcoming Resistance to Anti-PD-1 Antibody Immunotherapy.
Hanks, B.
(2019) Immuno-Oncology Summit. Boston, MA. August 5, 2019

Blockade of the PPARα metabolic checkpoint with TPST-1120 suppresses tumor growth and stimulates anti-tumor immunity.
Whiting, C., Stock, N., Messmer, D., Chen, A., Rahbaek, L., Metzger, D., Enstrom, A., Sturdivant, M., DeVito, N., Spaner, D., Prasit, P., Hanks, B.A., Panigrahy, D., Laport, G.
(2019) AACR Annual Meeting. Atlanta, GA. March 29, 2019

Melanoma Research: Where we have been and where we are going.
Hanks, B.A.
(2019) Melanoma Research Alliance Annual Meeting. Washington, DC. Patient Forum. February 25, 2019

Inflammasome-Wnt Ligand Signaling Axis Promotes Immune Escape During Anti-PD-1 Antibody Immunotherapy.
Theivanthiran, B., DeVito, N., Evans, K., Sturdivant, M., Plebanek, M., Holtzhausen, A., Hsu, D., Lewicki, J., and Hanks, B.A.
(2018) SITC Annual Meeting. Washington, DC. Abstract #10539. Oral Presentation. November 7, 2018

Durable tumor regression and overall survival (OS) in patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma (aMCC) receiving pembrolizumab as first-line therapy.
Nghiem, P., Bhatia, S., Lipson, E., Sharfman, W.H., Kudchadkar, R.R., Friedlander, P.A., Brohl, A.S., Daud, A., Kluger, H., Reddy, S., Burgess, M., Hanks, B.A., Olencki, T., Boulmay, B.C., Lundgren, L.M., Ramchurren, N., Moreno, B.H., Sharon, E., Cheever, M.A., and Topalian, S.L.
(2018) ASCO Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL. Abstract #9506. Oral Presentation. June 1, 2018

Pilot trial of an Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) inhibitor plus a multipeptide melanoma vaccine in patients with advanced melanoma.
Slingluff Jr. C., Fling,S., Mauldin, I. Ernstoff, M.S., Hanks, B.A., Delman, K.A., Lawson, D.A., Gastman, B., Kaiser, J.C., Cheever, M.A.
(2018) ASCO Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL. Abstract #3033. Poster Presentation. June 1, 2018

Tumor-mediated Modulation of Immunometabolism as a Mechanism of Immunotherapy Resistance.
Hanks, B.
(2018) Immuno-Oncology Summit. Boston, MA. August 27, 2018

Investigating the Role of Innate Immunity in Adaptive Resistance to Cancer Immunotherapy.
Hanks, B.
(2018) Biomarkers and Immuno-Oncology World Congress. Boston, MA. June 13, 2018

Role of the Wnt-β-catenin Signaling Pathway in Tumor-mediated Immune Evasion and Immunotherapy Resistance.
Hanks, B.
(2018) Duke-NUS. Singapore. March 27, 2018

A HSP-TLR-Wnt5a Paracrine Signaling Axis Drives CXCR2 Ligand Recruitment of Myeloid-derived Suppressor Cells and Represents a Novel Adaptive Resistance Mechanism to Anti-PD-1 Antibody Therapy.
Theivanthiran, B., DeVito, N., Evans, K., Zhao, F., Xiao, C. , Goldschmidt, B., Edgar, R., Holtzhausen, A., Salama, A., Lewicki, J., Strickler, J., Viator, J., and Hanks, B.
(2017) Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. Washington, DC. 5(Suppl 2): P385. Poster Presentation. November 8, 2017

Paracrine Wnt-β-catenin Signaling Inhibition as a Strategy to Enhance the Efficacy of Anti-PD-1 Antibody (Ab) Therapy in a Transgenic Model of Melanoma.
DeVito, N., Xiao, C., Zhao, F., Evans, K., Theivanthiran, T., Lewicki, J., Hoey, T., Hurwitz, H., Strickler, J., and Hanks, B.
(2017) Journal of Clinical Oncology. Chicago, IL. 35: (suppl; abstract 3053). Poster Presentation.

Utilizing Pre-Clinical Melanoma Models to Design Rational Combinatorial Immunotherapy Regimens Lessons Learned from Targeting the TGF-β Signaling Pathway.
Hanks, B.A.
(2017) Melanoma Research Alliance Annual Meeting. Washington, DC. Oral Presentation.

How to Integrate Immunotherapy into Your Clinical Practice. The Immune System and Cancer: Mechanisms of Immune Suppression.
Hanks, B.A.
(2017) ASCO-SITC Joint Conference. Chicago, IL. Oral Presentation. June 2, 2017

Paracrine Wnt5a-β-catenin Signaling Triggers a Metabolic Switch that Drives Dendritic Cell Tolerization and Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase Enzymatic Activity in the Melanoma Microenvironment.
Zhao, F., Xiao, C., Evans, K., Holtzhausen, A., Boczkowski, D., Nair, S., and Hanks, B.
(2016) Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. Washington, DC. 4(Suppl 1): O11. Oral Presentation. November 9, 2016

Increased immune responses in melanoma patients pre-treated with CDX-301, a recombinant human Flt3 ligand, prior to vaccination with CDX-1401, a dendritic cell targeting NY-ESO-1 vaccine, in a phase II study.
Bhardwaj, N., Friedlander, P., Pavlick, A., Ernstoff, M., Gastman, B., Hanks, B.A., Albertini, M., Luke, J., Keler, T., Davis, T., Vitale, L.A., Sharon, S., Danaher, P., Morishima, C., Cheever, M., and Fling, S.
(2016) Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. Washington, DC. 4(Suppl 1):P166. Poster Presentation.

Stromal fibroblasts promote Wnt5a expression and suppress responses to anti-PD-1 antibody therapy in an autochthonous melanoma model.
Zhao, F., Evans, K., Xiao, C., Holtzhausen, A., and Hanks, B.A.
(2016) Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. Washington, DC. 4(Suppl 1):P383. Poster Presentation. November, 11 2016

A Phase II Randomized Study of CDX-1401, a Dendritic Cell Targeting NY-ESO-1 Vaccine, in Patients with Malignant Melanoma Pre-Treated with Recombinant CDX-301, a Recombinant Human Flt3 Ligand.
Bhardwaj, N., Pavlick, A., Ernstoff, M., Curti, B., Hanks, B., Albertini, M., Luke, J., Yellin, M., Keler, T., Davis, T., Vitale, L., Crocker, A., Friedlander, P., Morishima, C., Cheever, M., and Fling, S.
(2016) Journal of Clinical Oncology. Chicago, IL. 34: (suppl; abstr 9589). Poster Presentation.

Tumor-mediated Metabolic Re-Programing of Dendritic Cells as a Fundamental Mechanism of Immune Tolerance and Immunotherapy Resistance.
Zhao, F., Evans, K., Xiao, C. and Hanks, B.A.
(2016) Keystone Symposium: Immunometabolism. Banff, Alberta, Canada. February 25, 2016

Targeting the Wnt5a-β-catenin pathway in the melanoma microenvironment to augment checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy.
Zhao, F., Evans, K., Holtzhausen, A. Tsutsui, M. Tyler, D.S., and Hanks, B.A.
(2015) Journal of Clinical Oncology. 33 (suppl; abstr 3054).

Melanoma-derived Wnt5a conditions dendritic cells to promote regulatory T cell differentiation via the upregulation of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase: novel pharmacological strategies for augmenting immunotherapy efficacy.
Holtzhausen, A., Zhao, F. Evans, K., Orabona, C., Hanks, B.
(2014) Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 2(Suppl 3):P209 November, 6 2014

Combinatorial TGF-β signaling blockade and anti-CTLA-4 antibody immunotherapy in a murine BRAFV600E-PTEN-/- transgenic model of melanoma.
Holtzhausen, A., Evans, K., Siska, P., Rathmell, J., and Hanks, B.
(2014) Journal of Clinical Oncology. 32:5s. (suppl; abstr 3011).

Role of the Wnt-β-catenin Signaling Pathway in Melanoma-mediated Dendritic Cell Tolerization.
Holtzhausen, A., Evans, K., and Hanks, B.
(2013) Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer .1: 153. (suppl 1).

Effect of the loss of the type III TGFβ receptor during tumor progression on tumor microenvironment: Preclinical development of TGFβ inhibition and TGFβ-related biomarkers to enhance immunotherapy efficacy.
Hanks, B.A., Holtzhausen, A., Gimpel, P, Jamieson, P. Campbell, O., Sun, L., Augustine, C.K., Tyler, T.S., Osada, T., Morse, M., Ling, L.E., Lyerly, H.K. and Blobe, G.C.;
(2012) Journal of Clinical Oncology. 30. (suppl; abstr 10563).

Lab Members

Brent Hanks, M.D., Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Nicholas DeVito, M.D.

Medical Instructor

Bala Theivanthiran, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Michael Plebanek, Ph.D.

Post-doctoral Associate

Nagendra Yarla, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Associate

Fang Liu, M.S., M.D.

Lab Manager and Senior Lab Technician

Mandy Wang, B.S.

Graduate Student

Y-Van Nguyen, B.S.

Research Technician II

Linda Cao

Undergraduate Researcher

Lab Alumni

Michelle Dantzler, B.S.

Undergraduate Researcher

2018 - 2021

Michael Sturdivant, B.S.

Research Technician

2018 - 2020

Li Lu, M.D.

Visiting Scholar

2019 - 2020

Kathy Evans, B.S.

Lab Manager

2013 - 2020

Christine Xiao, BS

Research Technician II

2015 - 2018

Nick Jerles

Undergraduate Researcher

2017 - 2018

Fei Zhao, Ph.D.

Post-doctoral Associate

2014 - 2018


Duke University
308 Research Drive
Levine Science Research Center (LSRC)
Box 3819
Office: Room C203
Lab: Rooms C207, C210, C214

Lab Phone Number: (919) 684-1818
Lab Fax Number: (919) 613-1728

Join Us

We are always interested in hearing from potential post-doctoral candidates and graduate students. Please inquire about available lab positions by contacting Dr. Brent Hanks at [email protected].