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Last Updated: 01/06/20

IOB Staff Profile and Focus Areas

Connie Sommers, Ph.D.

Dr. Connie Sommers obtained her Ph.D. in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She pioneered the concept of EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) in breast cancer during her time at the NCI Medicine Branch and at Georgetown University. She transitioned to studying developmental immunology in 1994 at NICHD and was a Staff Scientist at NCI for 17 years as an expert on genetic mouse modeling to study T cell signaling. Dr. Sommers joined the IOB in 2017, where she is happy to be able to utilize her backgrounds in cancer research and in basic immunology. Her programmatic research interests include: checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy, adoptive cellular immunotherapies, preclinical models of immunotherapy, canine immunotherapy, nanotechnology in immunotherapy, and combination cancer therapies.

Connie L. Sommers, Ph.D.
Program Director
sommersc@mail.nih.gov

Laura Fogli Hunter, Ph.D.

Dr. Hunter obtained her Ph.D. in Immunology and Pathobiology from New York University School of Medicine. While at NYU, she studied mechanisms of inflammation driven by Th17 cells, a proinflammatory subset of CD4 T cells. Her research focused on chronic inflammatory diseases, including asthma, COPD, and psoriatic arthritis. Dr. Hunter worked in medical communications before starting at NCI in 2016. She joined NCI as part of the DCTD Medical Writing and Clinical Protocol Support team, where she supported immunotherapy clinical trials and developed manuscripts for publication. Dr. Hunter transitioned to the IOB in 2019. Her research interests include checkpoint inhibitor therapy, cytokine therapy, immune modulation of the tumor microenvironment, and the role of the microbiome in immunotherapy response

Laura Fogli Hunter, Ph.D.
Program Director
laura.hunter@nih.gov

Kasia Bourcier, Ph.D.

Dr. Kasia Bourcier obtained a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Medical University of Warsaw, Poland studying neuroimmune interactions in mouse models of neurological diseases. Dr. Bourcier then joined the Center for Neurologic Diseases (CND) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School where her major research interests were related to characterization of antigen specific T-cell responses in Multiple Sclerosis and HTLV-I associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis patients. To extend the pursuit of research in monitoring the immune system, Dr. Bourcier took the role of Associate Director of the Clinical Immunology Laboratory in CND and managed the development and implementation of mechanism of action studies for clinical trials. In 2004 she joined the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), University of California, San Francisco, to lead a group overseeing performance of centralized Core Laboratories and implementation of standardized, cutting edge assays for monitoring patients enrolled in ITN’s clinical trials. In 2011 she joined the Autoimmunity and Mucosal Immunology Branch at the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation at NIAID, NIH. Since October 2019, is a Program Director in the Immuno-Oncology Branch where her programmatic interests include new developments empowering the immune system to fight cancer, specifically cell-based cancer therapies, mechanisms governing development of immune related adverse events induced by checkpoint inhibitor therapies and development of new cutting-edge technologies to study the immune system.

Kasia Bourcier, Ph.D.
Program Director
bourcierkd@mail.nih.gov

Anju Singh, Ph.D.

Dr Anju Singh obtained her degree in Veterinary Medicine (BVSc) from G. B. Pant University, Pantnagar, India. She came to the USA in 2003 and obtained her Ph.D. in Comparative Biomedical Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied mechanisms of T cell memory in acute and chronic viral infections. Dr. Singh transitioned to Harvard University for her postdoctoral fellowship where she investigated cross talk between the immune and skeletal systems, anabolic regulators of bone development and the biology of skeletal progenitor cells. Dr. Singh joined National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) as a Translational Research Scientist in 2012 where she gained extensive experience implementing high throughput screens and developing complex cellular models for drug discovery. Scientific areas of interest at NCATS included targeting Th17 cells to suppress autoimmune disorders, targeting the tumor microenvironment, small molecule potentiators for immunotherapy, immunometabolism and immune activators that increased cytotoxic T cell function. Dr. Singh joined the Immunology Review Branch, NIAID as a Scientific Review Officer (contractor) in 2019 and transitioned to the Immuno-Oncology Branch at NCI in 2020. Her programmatic research interests include pre-clinical models of immunotherapy including canine models, immunometabolism, modulation of tumor microenvironment, antitumor immunity and development of new technologies and targets.

Anju Singh, Ph.D.
Program Director
anju.singh@nih.gov

About the Branch Chief

Dr. Marc Ernstoff Dr. Marc Ernstoff joined the NCI Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, Developmental Therapy Program in 2020 as Medical Officer and the new Chief of the ImmunoOncology Branch. He has over 40 years experience in studying the immunobiology of human cancer and the development of new immune therapies. More…