Cancer is a heterogeneous disease that complicates its study and therefore treatment. Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment but many patients still are facing with little or no clinical benefit with the same treatment. Recent high-dimensional technologies have allowed us the ability to understand the tumor ecosystem and its impact on treatment response. We are motivated by the questions of how the tumor microenvironment changes upon cancer progression, before and after treatment, and if we can predict treatment responses based on blood immune cell signatures.


We follow where science takes us. Currently, we leverage computational biology approaches, using high-dimensional data from multi-omics genome-wide (genomics and epigenomics) and single-cell assays, data mining, and bioinformatics. We develop and employ computational biology methods to mine publicly available data and in-house generated data for the specific questions we ask. We validate what we found in human data using independent data cohort, in vitro and in vivo approaches.

Ultimately, our goal is to understand how tumor immune microenvironment changes toward finding immunotherapeutic biomarkers and targets.

Although our central questions focus on cancer, we are open to the collaborative environment in Madison to explore similar questions in other diseases.

Lab News

  • UWCCC Transdisciplinary Cancer Immunology-Immunotherapy Pilot Project awarded

    We are awarded a pilot grant to search for a biomarker for the response to immunotherapy in combination with radiation in liver metastatic colorectal cancer patients, together with Dr. Dusty Deming. The award is based …

  • Aisha was awarded CIBM fellowship!

    Aisha’s application was awarded for a CIBM Postdoctoral fellowship from the NLM training grant to the Computation and Informatics in Biology and Medicine (CIBM) Training Program at UW-Madison.  She will study isoform expression and cell-cell …

  • Pilot grant to study neutrophils in pancreatic cancer was awarded.

    Our pilot grant to study neutrophil heterogeneity in pancreatic cancer together with Dr. Dusty Deming from UWCCC. We are excited to contribute in advance a less traveled road in studying this lethal disease.

  • Athena joins the lab for a PhD study!

    Athena Golfinos officially joined the lab after her summer rotation from the CMP program. Athena will lead our effort to study Head and Neck cancer immunology using scRNA-Seq and bioinformatics approaches.  Welcome Athena!

  • Aisha joined the lab as a postdoc! Welcome!

    Dr. Aisha Mergaert, a newly graduate from Dr. Miriam Shelef lab at the UW CMP program, joined us since June 01, 2021 to lead our effort in studying myeloid heterogeneity in cancer using high-dimensional flow …

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