Led by principal investigator Jenny Munson, Ph.D., the Munson Lab studies the tumor microenvironment in cancers, including glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer. The lab's research focuses on the emerging research area of fluid flow. Cancer’s invasion of the brain follows distinctive routes that correlate with interstitial and bulk flow pathways. In brain cancer, fluid flow increases between cells within the tissue, specifically across the invasive edge of the tumor where cells are prone to both interact with the surrounding brain tissue and to evade localized, transport-limited therapies. Munson and her team believe fluid flow can alter how a tumor responds to drug therapies. Not only is fluid flow important in cancer, but also is a contributor to normal function in tissues and other diseases. The lab is translating many of its methods and hypotheses to understand the role of fluid flow in immunity, aging, and women's health.
The lab's methods combine in vivo imaging methodology with in vitro tissue engineered models to examine the role of interstitial fluid flow and the cellular components of the microenvironment in cancer progression and treatment. The lab uses patient-derived cells to create personalized models of disease to test hypotheses related to fluid and tissue transport in tumors and the brain and to identify new drug targets and treatment approaches.