Understanding Immune Hubs to Improve Immunotherapy

Our Research

Our lab studies the cellular interactions that shape immune responses in human tumors, focusing on how these responses are regulated. Using a combination of large-scale genomic analyses and tissue imaging approaches, we have identified hubs in tumor tissues where tumor cells come into close contact with immune cells. By characterizing the cells in these hubs, and the gene networks that are turned on in these cells, our lab aims to uncover novel ways to harness the immune system in the fight against cancer.

Our Partners

Our People

We are a brand new lab located at the Gladstone Institutes in sunny Mission Bay looking for passionate students and postdoctoral fellows to join us in our mission to decode the cellular interaction networks that shape immune responses in human tumors. We are excited to grow into a cross-disciplinary, collaborative and diverse lab that includes clinicians, immunologists, geneticists, cancer researchers, and computational biologists.

Media Highlights

Juggling Motherhood and Science
Cancer Immunologist Karin Pelka Joins Gladstone Institutes
Researchers discover immune cell “hubs” hiding in tumors
SU2C Peggy Prescott Early Career Scientist Award in Colorectal Cancer Research
Stand Up to Cancer Awards $1.1 Million in Grants to Research Teams
Faith Fight Finish Foundation Gala
‘Goodness, I’m getting emotional’: How Cowboys QB Dak Prescott brought Jerry Jones to tears at gala
Stand Up to Cancer Grants First Peggy Prescott Award in Colorectal Cancer Research

Recent Lab News

March 2023

Earlier in March, the Pelka Lab had the pleasure of attending the Bay Area PICI Symposium held at Gladstone where Karin also presented some of the lab’s work!

April 2023

Four new lovely members joined the lab: Anna Ralser, Alisa Dietl, McKenzie Daanen, and Amelie Delcourt. Welcome, all! Karin, Alisa, and Anna also had the pleasure of attending the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Spring Retreat in Hawaii!

May 2023

Karin, along with other PIs, hosted the 1st Biannual 2023 Spatial Profiling Symposium Highlighting Cancer Research! The symposium took place at the Parnassus campus and had a wonderful turnout. Congrats to all organizers for a successful event!