University of Nebraska Medical Center

Joyce Solheim, PhD

Professor, UNMC Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases
Director, IGPBS-Cancer Research Doctoral Program, Cancer Research M.S. Program, and Eppley Summer Undergraduate Research Program
Associate Director for Training and Education, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center
Research focus: Mechanisms regulating the immune response to tumors and infectious pathogens, and development of new immunotherapies


Joyce Solheim

Joyce Solheim, PhD, is a professor in the UNMC Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases. She also serves as courtesy faculty for the UNMC departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Pathology and Microbiology.

  • PhD, Southern Illinois University, 1992
A significant advance in cancer immunology has been the characterization of tumor antigens recognized by T lymphocytes. These tumor antigens have been found to be peptides, derived from tumor-specific proteins, that are bound to cell surface receptors called major histocompatibility complex class I molecules. Once a T lymphocyte has recognized an MHC class I molecule that bears a tumor peptide, it lyses the cell to prevent further spread of the malignancy. To transport a tumor peptide to the cell surface, the MHC class I heavy chain must first bind to it inside the cell. Our laboratory is characterizing the peptides presented by MHC class I molecules on cancer cells with the goals of identifying mechanisms regulating peptide loading and identifying new vaccine targets. We have also discovered that MHC surface expression is influenced by amyloid precursor-like protein 2 (APLP2) and that APLP2 simultaneously affects the growth and spread of certain kinds of cancer cells. Therefore, APLP2 is a new target for both immunology and cancer biology therapeutic strategies. As an adjunct approach to standard cancer treatments, immunotherapies can potentially be used to attack tumors regionally or systemically, and we are also using the knowledge gained from our studies on T cell-mediated immunity in our development of better chemokine-mediated immunotherapies for cancer.