Team EIT


Team EIT

New Strategies to Enhance the Immunogenicity of Tumors

Cells with hypermutation phenotypes harbor an initial growth advantage to form primary tumors. However, this group of tumors produces more tumor-specific antigens that evoke immune responses. Contrarily, tumors that exhibit a low mutator phenotype avoid de novo mutations that would be deleterious to cellular fitness and, most importantly, evade immune surveillance. As a result, these patients harbor weaker immunogenic phenotypes with immune cell-poor tumor microenvironments, limiting the response rate to immunotherapies.

This team’s main objective is to identify how DNA damage response (DDR) shapes the tumor microenvironment. Using colorectal cancer as a model, this team will investigate the molecular pathways altered in immunogenic and non-immunogenic tumor clusters. The main aim of the project will be to identify canonical and non-canonical roles of DDR molecules involved in tumor immunity. Our final goal is to design new therapeutic targets that promote a favorable tumor microenvironment for immunotherapies.

  • Dr. Weixiao Sha (Industry mentor)
    Associate Scientific Director, Tumor Immunology Research at Merck
  • Dr. Balca Mardin (Industry mentor)
    Head of Laboratory, DNA Damage Response Research at Merck
  • TBD (Academic mentor)
The research of this team is kindly supported by Merck.

Dr. Semih Akincilar

Group Leader

 Short Bio
  • 2020 – 2024: Senior Scientist investigating the deregulation of inflammatory pathways in chronic inflammatory disorders at the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
  • 2017 – 2020: Postdoctoral Research Fellow in targeting replicative immortality in cancer cells at A*STAR, Singapore
  • 2013 – 2017: PhD in Biochemistry, National University of Singapore, investigated the transcriptional reactivation of telomerase gene in cancer

Dr. Rayene Berkane

Postdoctoral researcher

 Short Bio

2020 – 2024: PhD/research assistant, Dr. Alexandra Stolz Lab, supervised by Prof. Ivan Dikic, Uniklinik Frankfurt, Goethe university, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

2020: MSc Thesis, Dr. Alexandra Stolz Lab, supervised by Prof. Ivan Dikic, Uniklinik Frankfurt, Goethe university, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

2019 – 2020: MSc in Cancer Biology, University of Montpellier, France

2014 – 2016: MSc in Human Genetics, University of Brothers Mentouri, Constantine, Algeria

2011 – 2014: BSc in Clinical Biology, University of Brothers Mentouri, Constantine, Algeria


Team EIT Alumni

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