See related article on p. 1292.


Gregory F. Sonnenberg, PhD, is Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Dr. Sonnenberg received his B.S. in 2007 from State University of New York at Buffalo and his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Pennsylvania. He started an independent research laboratory in 2012.

The focus of Dr. Sonnenberg's research is delineating the mechanisms that maintain a state of health in the human gastrointestinal tract. His work has been recognized by many early career investigator awards, including the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Lloyd J. Old STAR Award.

As an inaugural CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR, Dr. Sonnenberg is working to define the relationship between bacteria, the immune system, and cancer. Using innovative mouse models and patient-based translational studies, he plans to mechanistically define pathways by which normally beneficial microbes interact with mammalian hosts to influence tumor growth, invasion, and responsiveness to checkpoint blockade immunotherapies, as well as to uncover novel strategies to boost the effectiveness of immunotherapies against tumors.

Overall, as a CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR, Dr. Sonnenberg is investigating how microbes in our bodies shape tumor biology by:

  • (i) determining how microbiota modulate tumor growth;

  • (ii) defining the functional potential of innate lymphoid cells in cancer; and

  • (iii) interrogating host–microbiota interactions in cancer checkpoint blockade immunotherapies.

By bringing fresh ideas and novel perspectives to the field, Dr. Sonnenberg hopes his research may directly identify therapeutic targets that could be rapidly moved into the clinic to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer.