For the past 20 years, Dr. Coussens has studied how cancer usurps the immune system. Her work has upended a long-held belief that immune cells surrounding cancer cells are overwhelmed and unable to effectively fight the cancer. Her research has shown that some of these immune cells are not only shut down, but are fueling the growth of the tumor.
Coussens has an international reputation for exceptional high-impact research. Her pioneering studies have fueled a paradigm shift in understanding the role of the tumor microenvironment in regulating breast cancer development and its response to therapy.
She launched the first-ever human trial to combine chemotherapy with a drug to eliminate the immune cells that are enhancing the growth of the tumor. She is one of two researchers in the country awarded a $6.5 million Komen for the Cure Promise Grant to translate her findings into better treatments.