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Theodore (Ted) Johnson, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the GRU Medical College of Georgia (MCG). He is a Member of the GRU Cancer Center in the Cancer Immunology, Inflammation, and Tolerance Program. Dr. Johnson earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his M.D. (2004) and Ph.D. (2004, Molecular Medicine) degrees from MCG. He completed residency training in Pediatrics at MCG and fellowship training in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he served as Chief Fellow during his final year. Dr. Johnson returned to MCG at GRU where he treats children with cancer and rare blood disorders. He has established a laboratory in the GRU Cancer Center, where he studies the mechanistic contribution of immune tolerance to tumor growth and progression. His primary professional objective is to translate anti-cancer immunotherapeutic treatments for use in pediatric malignancy.
Neoplastic processes actively create immunosuppressive environments that drive systemic tolerance to cancer cells. Tumors develop exquisitely complex stromal networks that promote growth despite the presence of antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and tumor infiltrating lymphocytes. Although tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) appear to be fully competent APCs, they process immense volumes of dead and dying tumor cells without inciting adaptive immune responses. Dr. Johnson’s laboratory uses a variety of solid tumor models to study the role of these host stromal elements, including TAMs, and mechanisms of immune tolerance in regulating anti-tumor immune responses. Recently he has begun using an orthotopic brain tumor model to explore the effect of immune modulation on tumor growth, immune responses to tumor, and vascular activation. The overall objective of these studies is to define the mechanisms by which host stromal elements within malignancies promote tumor survival and immune suppression in order to identify therapeutic targets for the development of small-molecule therapies and cellular immunotherapies.