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Claire Shudde

Predoctoral Fellowship in Drug Discovery, 2023 University of Michigan

Improving T Cell Therapies for Cancer Treatment


The immune system is critical for fighting cancer. T cells in particular are important for directly killing cancer cells. There are treatments currently available that work to boost the ability of T cells to recognize cancer, however, only 30% of patients respond to these treatments. This is because cancer can create a signal “desert” that does not have the necessary signals killer T cells need to function and survive.

My research is focused on designing a synthetic activator to insert into killer T cells that will enable them to survive and kill cancer cells even in a signal desert. In the future, I will test this activator in a different group of T cells, called helper T cells, which help build an immune response to fight cancer. If this activator can be used in helper T cells in combination with killer T cells to increase their survival and function without need for outside signals, then we can hopefully reach the 70% of cancer patients who do not respond to current T cell therapies.

Q&A with Claire Shudde: Triggering a Stronger Immune Response to Cancer

I am incredibly thankful that the PhRMA Foundation believes in my research and awarded me the Predoctoral Drug Discovery Fellowship. With this funding, I will use my knowledge of the immune system and signal transduction to enhance cancer immunotherapies.

Claire Shudde

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