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Martin McCarter, MD



Tumor Immunology, Surgical Oncology


University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus


Must have completed 1-3 years of college.

Openings: 1


We are actively engaged in basic and translational research investigating the immunosuppressive effects of melanoma (and other tumors) on normal immune cells. We utilize in-vitro models of melanoma to understand how melanoma can generate Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSC) and Regulatory T cells (Treg) both of which to immune suppression and “protect” the tumor. Blood and samples from human patients diagnosed with melanoma are collected under IRB approved protocols. Using our discoveries, we look for ways to translate this info back to the clinic and potentially interrupt this process in patients diagnosed with melanoma. Currently we lead an investigator initiated clinical trial combining standard Ipilimumab with an agent designed to change the tumor microenvironment (ATRA -differentiates immunosuppressive MDSC’s towards a more active Dendritic Cell). In addition, we collaborate with researchers investigating similar mechanisms in breast cancer patients. Other active and ongoing collaborations include projects assessing the biologic activity of HIV in intestinal immune cells, the effect of the microbiome and diet on intestinal immune cells susceptibility to HIV and analysis of human spleen B cell function. 

The current primary projects in the lab include:

1. Investigating the function of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in the tissues of melanoma patients.

2. Identifying new biological markers of human MDSCs.

3. Investigating new treatments to decrease the frequency or immunosuppressive activities of MDSCs in cancer patients.


Students may be exposed to or participate in the following research techniques: a) perform cell culture, b) analyze gene expression by RT-PCR, c) perform flow cytometric analysis of human peripheral blood cells and tissues, d) analyze data and prepare graphs, and e) interpret and discuss results according to the literature.