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Peter P. Lee, MD

Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Endowed Professor
Chair, Cancer and Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology
City of Hope
Duarte, California
EIF/Stand Up To Cancer

Current Research

  • Studies are aimed at improving the effectiveness of immunotherapy by studying the tumor ecosystem.

  • A Stand Up To Cancer Convergence team applies a multi-disciplinary approach to tumor biology.

  • This collaborative research will lead to novel treatment approaches that modify the tumor environment to improve anti-tumor immunity and response to immunotherapy drugs.

Tumors consist not only of cancer cells, but also stromal and immune cells that constitute the tumor microenvironment (TME). The TME is an ecosystem of multiple cell populations, and the extracellular matrix (ECM) that they produce, that interact in a complex fashion to yield tissue form and function. 

Cancer cells can take on dramatically different properties based on influences from the microenvironment. In many different cancer types, including breast cancer (BC), tumors with more stromal cells typically have worse clinical outcomes. In contrast, tumors infiltrated by a type of immune cell called CD8 T cells have better clinical outcomes. Hence, tumors behave differently based on the collective behavior of the microenvironment. 

The objective of the Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) Convergence team consisting of Drs. Atwal, Irvine, Lee, Levine and Yu is to apply systems and ecological approaches to study the TME and determine whether it is an important determinant for the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. 

The SU2C team brings together expertise in high dimensional histology, image analysis, culturing cells from primary human breast tumors, 3D spheroids, bioinformatics, ecology modeling, and nanotechnology to study the ecology of the TME in BC, and develop therapeutic and imaging applications.

In the first year of their award, the SU2C team showed that cancer-associated fibroblasts and other immune-derived cells interact with cancer cells to promote tumor progression and metastasis. They also found the addition of a commonly used drug to treat parasitic infection improved response to anti PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy.

They are continuing these investigations to understand the relationship between the stromal cells and cancer cells and develop targeted approaches to improve response to treatments.


Dr. Lee trained in clinical immunology at University of California, San Francisco and hematology at Stanford University. He was a tenured faculty member at Stanford before joining City of Hope in 2011, where he is now the Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Endowed Professor in Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Chair of the Cancer and Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology (CITI) Department. Dr. Lee has over 70 peer-reviewed publications and trained over 20 pre- and postdoctoral fellows. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and recipient of Damon Runyon Scholar Award (Connie and Bob Lurie Scholar), American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award, Dept. of Defense Era of Hope Scholar Award for Breast Cancer Research, Dept. of Defense Multi-Team Award for Breast Cancer Research, and Dept. of Defense Era of Hope Expansion Award for Breast Cancer Research.

BCRF Investigator Since


Area(s) of Focus