Our lab studies the role of innate immune players like Natural Killer cells (NK cells) and Monocytes in cancer and autoimmunity. Our lab is specifically interested in exploring the effect of the tumor microenvironment on functionality of NK cells. We study the effect of factors like hypoxia and extracellular matrix on NK cell cytotoxicity and phenotype. We perform these studies using NK cell lines, and in-vitro cytotoxicity assays using renal cell carcinoma cell lines and colorectal cancer cell lines as targets. In another project, we study the effect of oncolytic reovirus on immune cells and its effect on anti- tumor cytotoxicity.


We study the connection between inflammation and cancer to develop novel immuno-therapies against cancer. Inflammation is central to our fight against pathogens, but if not under control the resulting chronic inflammation can contribute to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. A link between autoimmunity and cancer has long been suspected with studies showing that susceptibility to cancer increases when tissues are chronically inflamed and many solid tumors contain immune cells that are important in inflammation. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), have a high risk of death from cancer - at least double the risk of the general population.  We use the K/BxN mice a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis and the mouse models of cancer to study the role chronic inflammation during arthritis on tumor growth, migration and invasion. Results from these studies will lead to novel immuno-therapies to treat cancer.

The lab specializes in-vivo mouse models of autoimmunity and cancer, flow cytometry and in-vitro immunological assays.








Dr. Narendiran Rajasekaran PhD

PhD University of Konstanz, Germany

Post doctoral: Bonn Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Post doctoral: Stanford University


William Gibson

Cortney Collins, Under Graduate (Biomedical Sciences)

Nicholaus Knott


Olivia Bertram

Undergraduate (Biomedical Sciences)

Co-supervised by Dr. Varadaraj


CHM 599 Immunology and disease (Spring)

CHM 599 Contemporary developments: Current developments in immunological methods (Fall) 

                    Ongoing Research Support

1) NIH1U54MD012388; 09/20/2017- 06/30/2020; Research core project #4: Investigating the anti-tumor cytotoxicity of reovirus treated NK cells for cancer therapy, Role: PI

2) Faculty Grant Program (NAU); 07/01/2017- 06/30/2018; Role of SOC1 in fibrosis resolution, Role: Co-I