Tullia C. Bruno, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology
  • Member, Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
  • Member, Tumor Microenvironment Center, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
  • Scientific Director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Flow Facility

Education & Training

  • PhD in Immunology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2010
  • BS in Chemistry (minor Biology), Vanderbilt University, 2005

Research Interests

Immunotherapy has revolutionized treatment options for cancer patients. However, only 20% of patients produce a durable response to immune based therapies. Further, there are some solid tumors which yield very little therapeutic benefit from current standard of care immunotherapies. Thus, a need exists to develop additional therapeutic strategies to treat these patients, which includes evaluation of other tumor infiltrating immune cells that could further augment the intratumoral T cell response. Tumor infiltrating B cells (TIL-B) represent a possible target for immunotherapy due to their predominance in the tumor microenvironment (TME) and crucial role in the immune response. However, TIL-B function in cancer and in the context of immunotherapy has been understudied. In fact, conclusions on an anti- or pro- tumor role for TIL-Bs in the TME remain incomplete. However, current evidence suggests an anti-tumor role for TIL-Bs in cancer patients.  Specifically, detection of TIL-Bs within tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) correlates with increased survival and immunotherapeutic response.  While TIL-Bs have been identified in multiple tumor types, their complete phenotypic signature and interplay with other components within the TME have been understudied. Further, the heterogeneity of TLS in patient tumors is severely underappreciated, which is an overt focus of the Bruno laboratory. Specifically, we aim to understand B cell infiltration and TLS development within solid tumors to generate effective B-cell focused immunotherapies to augment the current successes of standard of care immunotherapies such as anti-PD1.


Bruno TC, Ebner PJ, Moore BL, et al. 2017. Antigen-Presenting Intratumoral B Cells Affect CD4(+) TIL Phenotypes in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients. Cancer Immunol Res. 5: 898-907.

Cillo AR, Kurten CHL, Tabib T, Qi Z, Onkar S, Wang T, Liu A, Duvvuri U, Kim S, Soose RJ, Oesterreich S, Chen W, Lafyatis R, Bruno TC, Ferris RL and Vignali DAA. 2020. Immune Landscape of Viral- and Carcinogen-Driven Head and Neck Cancer. Immunity. 52: 183-199 e9.

Bruno TC. 2020. New predictors for immunotherapy responses sharpen our view of the tumour microenvironment. Nature. 577: 474-476.

Ruffin AT, Cillo AR, Tabib T, Liu A, Onkar S, Kunning S, Lampenfeld C, Atiya HI, Abecassis I, Kurten C, Qi Z, Soose R, Duvvuri U, Kim S, Oesterreich S, Lafyatis R, Coffman LG, Ferris RL, Vignali DAA and Bruno TC. B cell signatures and tertiary lymphoid structures contribute to outcomes in the two etiologies of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Pre-print in BioRxiv. (In revision at Nature Communications).

Somasundaram A, Cillo AR, Oliveri L, Velez MA, Joyce S, Sullivan ML, Normolle DP, Watkins SC, Herman JG, Kirkwood JM, Ferris RL, Bruno TC, Vignali DAA. Systemic immune dysfunction in cancer patients driven by IL6 and IL8 induction of an inhibitory receptor module in peripheral CD8+T cells. Pre-print in BioRxiv.

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