Keara Boss, DVM, PhD


Microenvironmental effects of radiation


Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Cancer Center, Fort Collins

Program Objective

To utilize both traditional basic science research and the potential of the canine comparative oncology model to explore complex radiation biology and oncology questions focused on the microenvironmental response to radiation therapy


Some current areas of focus include:

I am interested in studying the immune effects of radiation using a spontaneous canine oral carcinoma model. The field of radioimmunology is growing rapidly; however, many important questions remain. I aim to determine how lymph node irradiation influences the tumor immune response. My expertise as a veterinary radiation oncologist and radiation biologist allows me to make these discoveries with a translational comparative oncology model. Patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are given a poor prognosis. Scientists struggle to translate laboratory research into clinical success due to the lack of predictive animal models. Spontaneously occurring canine oral carcinoma shares several characteristics with advanced HNSCC which makes the dog a relevant preclinical model. Utilizing dogs with oral carcinoma to study advanced HNSCC is a novel approach that may transform preclinical HNSCC research.

Additional basic science studies include research investigating approaches for improving tumor radiosensitization by combining radiation with immunotherapy: Neutralization of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment – In collaboration with Dr. Steven Dow, we will study the role of the innate immune system in cancer. His laboratory has ongoing studies investigating the role of myeloid cells in regulating tumor growth and metastasis and immunotherapeutic approaches to abrogate the negative influence of these cells. He and I will work together to investigate the role of radiation in these mechanisms utilizing B16 melanoma and 4T1 mammary carcinoma cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Stimulation of immune effector functions of cytotoxic T lymphocytes – We have initiated a pilot study in mice investigating radioimmunologic effects of an experimental therapeutic and we are comparing results with the well-established anti-PDL1 checkpoint inhibitor. Initial studies have been in 4T1 tumors in mice, but we will move forward to the B16 melanoma model shortly.

CMS Login