Our Faculty and research trainees are investigating the role of the immune system in multiple types of cancers including Leukemia, Lymphoma, Head and Neck Cancer and Breast Cancer.  Cellular signal transduction pathways contributing to malignant transformation or immune dysfunction are being mapped and anti-cancer therapies targeting signaling pathways are being investigated.

The goal of my research is to define the signal transduction pathways leading to cell death or survival in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This B cell derived cancer is characterized by blockage of cell death pathways and immune dysfunction. We will elucidate pharmaceutical targets that could alter the cellular balance in favour of cell death in CLL cells. Current projects consist of understanding the microenvironment survival signals for CLL, role of exosomes in CLL progression, and targeting lysosome mediated cell death in CLL. This research will be the foundation to establish clinical trials using molecular targeted therapies to increase effectiveness of chemotherapy in CLL.

GIBSON, Spencer (PhD)
Professor - Cross Appointee
Head, Cell Biology at the Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology, CancerCare MB

Office Phone: (204) 787-2051
Web Page

KUNG, Sam (B.Sc, M.Phil, PhD)
Director, Core Platform of shRNA libraires and lentiviral vector production

Office Phone: (204) 480-1301

Natural Killer (NK) cells are bone marrow derived cells that constitute 10-15% of blood lymphocytes. They are critical in regulating anti-viral and tumor immunity.  NK-cell functions and migration are tightly regulated.  They can be activated by receptor recognition of target cells, cytokines or dendritic cells (DC).  Upon activation, NK cells will exert their effector functions (such as cytotoxic activity and/or production of signature cytokines) directly and/or indirectly via “crosstalks” of other immune cell types.
The Kung laboratory uses cellular approaches (tissue cultures, mouse models and human cohorts of breast and head-and-neck cancers), molecular approaches (transgenic, gene silencing, Crispr) and novel platforms (lentiviral vectors gene therapy, microfluidics) to study factors that (i) regulate natural killer cell differentiation and functions, (ii) natural killer cell-dendritic cell crosstalk; (iii) NK-cell migrations.  This research will support development of novel NK-cell based immunotherapy of cancers.

Web Page
Lentiviral Web Page

MARSHALL, Aaron (PhD) 
Professor, Department of Immunology
Head, Department of Immunology
Director, Flow Cytometry Core Platform

Our group is working to decode the intracellular signals that control the activities of immune cells during both healthy immune responses and in various disease states. Specifically, we focus on phosphoinositide (PI) kinases and phosphatases: enzymes that modify certain lipids in the plasma membrane to generate docking sites for intracellular signaling proteins. We have found that specific PI kinases and PI binding proteins are abnormally activated in immune cell-derived cancer such as B cell leukemia and lymphoma. Together with collaborators in CancerCare Manitoba, we are defining the functional roles of these PI kinases and binding proteins in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) patients. We are determining how these signaling molecules regulate leukemia cell survival, proliferation, migration and interaction with other supportive cell types present within lymphoid tissues where the cancer originates.

Office Phone: (204) 272-3082
Web Page


The overarching goal of our research program is to understand the role of tissue environment and the tissue resident immune cells in healing and response to therapy. To this end, we are engaged in two major and fundamental projects:
i) We use patient samples to recreate the tumour microenvironment and understand the immunobiology of breast cancer tumours, and the reasons behind inability of immune cells to detect and eliminate cancer cells
ii) Using primary human cells, we create wound healing models to examine the immune suppressive properties of mesenchymal stem cells and how they can be used to improve the chronic non-healing wounds

RAOUF, Afshin (PhD) 
Associate Professor
Senior Scientist, RIOH
Reg. Med. Program Member
TFRI-PCRC Breast Cancer Research Group Co-Chair
MFBF Chair in Chronic Wound Healing & Stem Cell Therapy
Manitoba Breast Cancer Research Group Team Leader

Office Phone: (204) 975-7704
Web Page