Heather Gibson


Heather Gibson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
4100 John R, HWCRC 515
Detroit, MI 48201

Research Interests:

  • Imaging modalities to monitor immune activity in situ
  • Genetic regulation of immune response, particularly in the context of anti-tumor immunity
  • Development and manipulation of regulatory T cells (Tregs)
  • Regulation of T cell trafficking and activation in the tumor microenvironment (TME)

Research Description:
Cancer immunotherapy breakthroughs have shown tremendous promise, but there remains an urgency to determine which patients will respond and why many do not. The goal of my lab is to address these issues by combining novel imaging approaches with functional genomics to both monitor immune response in vivo and determine genes and/or pathways involved in T cell trafficking and activity. In addition, pathways governing Treg development and function are pursued with the goal of manipulating their behavior either systemically or locally to influence adaptive immune responses. We use innovative genetically heterogeneous animal models in our approach to mimic the genetic diversity of humans, with whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) profiling to identify genomic loci associated with the phenotype of interest. Mechanistic validation is used to pinpoint causal genes and discern their role in immunotherapy response. Clinically relevant tumor and disease models are utilized to promote translation to improve patient care.

Selected Publications:

*Wong HK, *Gibson H, Hake T, Geyer S, Frederickson J, Marcucci G, Caligiuri MA, Porcu P, Mishra A. Promoter-Specific Hypomethylation Is Associated with Overexpression of PLS3, GATA6, and TWIST1 in the Sezary Syndrome. J Invest Dermatol. 2015;135:2084-92. *Denotes co-first author.

Gibson HM, Veenstra JJ, Jones R, Vaishampayan U, Sauerbrey M, Bepler G, Lum L, Reyes J, Weise A, Wei WZ. Induction of HER2 Immunity in Outbred Domestic Cats by DNA Electrovaccination. Cancer Immunol Res. 2015;3:777-86.

Veenstra JJ, Gibson HM, Freytag S, Littrup PJ, Wei WZ. In situ immunization via non-surgical ablation to prevent local and distant tumor recurrence. Oncoimmunology. 2015;4:e989762.

Gibson H, Munns S, Freytag S, Barton K, Veenstra J, Bettahi I, Bissonette J, Wei WZ. Immunotherapeutic intervention with oncolytic adenovirus in mouse mammary tumors. Oncoimmunology. 2015;4:e984523.

Zou Y, Xie L, Carroll S, Muniz M, Gibson H, Wei WZ, Liu H, Mao G. Layer-by-layer films with bioreducible and nonbioreducible polycations for sequential DNA release. Biomacromolecules. 2014;15:3965-75.

Veenstra JJ, Gibson HM, Littrup PJ, Reyes JD, Cher ML, Takashima A, Wei WZ. Cryotherapy with concurrent CpG oligonucleotide treatment controls local tumor recurrence and modulates HER2/neu immunity. Cancer Res. 2014;74:5409-20.

*Chan DV, *Gibson HM, Aufiero BM, Wilson AJ, Hafner MS, Mi QS, Wong HK. Differential CTLA-4 expression in human CD4+ versus CD8+ T cells is associated with increased NFAT1 and inhibition of CD4+ proliferation. Genes Immun. 2014;15:25-32. 
*Denotes co-first author.

Gibson HM, Mishra A, Chan DV, Hake TS, Porcu P, Wong HK. Impaired proteasome function activates GATA3 in T cells and upregulates CTLA-4: relevance for Sézary syndrome. J Invest Dermatol. 2013;133:249-57.

Piechocki MP, Wu GS, Jones RF, Jacob JB, Gibson H, Ethier SP, Abrams J, Yagita H, Venuprasad K, Wei WZ. Induction of proapoptotic antibodies to triple-negative breast cancer by vaccination with TRAIL death receptor DR5 DNA. Int J Cancer. 2012;131:2562-72.

Education and Training:
BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2004): Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
PhD in Immunology (2011): Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

Cancer Biology Courses Taught:
CB 7410 Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy