Scientific Director, Immunomonitoring Lab
Location: Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
The main research focus of our laboratory pertains to elucidating the mechanisms that mediate the optimal induction of anti-tumor immune responses.
Dr. C. Marcela Diaz obtained her PhD in Microbiology at Texas A&M University where she worked on vaccine development for Mediterranean spotted fever (Rickettsia conorii), a disease that closely resembles Rocky Mountain spotted fever. She continued as a postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M, during which she investigated the physiological changes that enable cancer cells to become anchor-independent and metastasize. She was a Research Instructor and Research Assistant Professor in South Carolina and Florida, respectively, before joining the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute as Project Staff and the Case Western School of Medicine as Adjunt Assistant Professor in 2013. Dr. Diaz and her lab joined the Center for Immunotherapy and Precision Immuno-Oncology (CITI) in 2022.
In parallel, she was appointed Scientific Director of the Immunomonitoring Lab (IML), where she combines her translational research interests with the IML’s menu of immunophenotypic and banking services. As one of three shared resources in CITI, the IML provides cutting edge technology for the comprehensive immunophenotyping of human blood and tissue. Dr. Diaz's lab supports translational investigators who aim to monitor the efficacy and biologic underpinnings of therapeutic interventions using immunologic profiling for precision treatment regimens. Her IML platform has extensive expertise and refinement in the process of biobanking samples for immediate or downstream immunophenotypic cell sorting, sequencing, and linkage to computational sequencing analysis with the CITI Computational Immunology Platform – a one stop shop!
Education and Fellowships
Postdoctoral Fellowship - University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Immunology
Houston, TX USA
Graduate - University of Texas, Medical Branch
Galveston, TX USA
Graduate - Texas A&M University
Kingsville, TX USA
Undergraduate - Universidad Industrial de Santander
Awards & Honors
The main research focus of our laboratory pertains to elucidating the mechanisms that mediate the optimal induction of anti-tumor immune responses. To accomplish this, we have developed a preclinical model that recapitulates the generation of protective anti-tumor immune responses in the setting of adoptive cell transfer. Using this model, we have previously demonstrated unique biological traits of ex vivo activated T cells that have important implications for the design of clinical trials that utilize adoptive cell therapy. We have also developed tumor models with variable levels and types of inflammation with the goal of understanding how intratumoral inflammation influences the factors that promote or inhibit anti-tumor immune responses. We collaborate with solid tumor oncologists in several projects aimed at elucidating the mechanisms behind resistance to immunotherapy. Our group was one of the first to demonstrate the clinical relevance of myeloid derived suppressor cells in cancer and we currently focus on understanding the factors that promote MDSC function.
Our ongoing projects include:
View publications for C. Marcela Diaz, PhD
(Disclaimer: This search is powered by PubMed, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. PubMed is a third-party website with no affiliation with Cleveland Clinic.)
Díaz-Montero CM, Salem ML, Garrett-Mayer E, Cole DJ, Montero AJ. Increased Levels of Circulating Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells In Whole Blood Correlate With Advanced Clinical Cancer Stage, Increased Tumor Burden, and Cyclophosphamide Containing Chemotherapy in Solid Tumor Patients. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2009 Jan;58(1):49-59.
Najjar YG, Rayman PA, Jia X, Pavicic PG, Rini BI, Tannenbaum CS, Ko J, Haywood S, Cohen PA, Hamilton T, Díaz Montero CM, Finke JH. Myeloid derived suppressor cell subset accumulation in renal cell carcinoma parenchyma is associated with intratumoral expression of IL-1β, IL-8, CXCL5 and Mip-1α. Clin Cancer Res. 2017 May 1;23(9):2346-2355.
Lin L, Rayman P, Pavicic PG Jr, Tannenbaum C, Hamilton T, Montero A, Ko J, Gastman B, Finke J, Ernstoff M, Díaz-Montero CM. Ex vivo conditioning with IL-12 protects tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells from negative regulation by local IFN-γ. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2019 Mar;68(3):395-405
Tannenbaum CS, Rayman PA, Pavicic PG, Kim JS, Wei W, Polefko A, Wallace W, Rini BI, Morris-Stiff G, Allende DS, Hamilton T, Finke JH, Díaz-Montero CM. Mediators of Inflammation-Driven Expansion, Trafficking, and Function of Tumor-Infiltrating MDSCs. Cancer Immunol Res. 2019 Aug 22.
Díaz-Montero CM, Rini BI, Finke JH. The Immunology of Renal Carcinoma. Nature Reviews Nephrology. 2020 Dec;16(12):721-735.