Scientist Peter Bruno, PhD Joins UCSF Urology

Submitted by UCSF Urology on August 1, 2023 at 1:20 pm
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Peter Bruno, PhDPeter Bruno, PhD Peter Bruno, PhD, received his undergraduate training at University of California, San Diego, where he earned his degree in Molecular Biology summa cum laude. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he received his PhD in Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Hemann where he uncovered unexpected mechanisms of action for new and old anti-cancer agents, nanoparticles, and drug combinations using RNAi and other functional genetic approaches.  Starting in 2016 he began his postdoctoral work with Dr. Stephen J. Elledge of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  There he sought to use genetics instead of biochemical approaches to improve the characterization of peptides that bind MHC.  The tool he developed, EpiScan, enables a dramatic improvement in the scale and specificity of MHC ligand determination.

Immune checkpoint blockade has revolutionized the treatment of previously intractable cancers, such as melanoma and lung cancer, but immunotherapies rarely achieve durable responses for metastatic prostate cancer. The Bruno laboratory aims to address this deficiency using synthetic biology and high-throughput functional genetic screens to develop new immunotherapies and better implement existing ones.

More specifically, Dr. Bruno is using these cutting-edge approaches to determine which prostate cancer-specific genes and mutations are, or are not, visible to the immune system. In parallel, he are investigating which of the above cancer-specific features the immune system ultimately recognizes in patients versus healthy individuals. Jointly leveraging these two lines of inquiry provides our laboratory with unique opportunities for improving therapeutic outcomes for prostate cancer patients.  Other urological cancers, particularly those with variable responses to immunotherapy, will be investigated as well.

The Bruno lab is also interested in applying the same tools to understand autoimmunity and infectious disease and attain fundamental insights into antigen presentation and T-cell biology.