Fellow, Whitehead Institute

Tobiloba Oni

The Oni Lab seeks new methods of understanding, detecting, and potentially treating pancreatic cancer.

Image
Tobi Oni standing outside in a long coat.

455 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

(617) 258-5125

Achievements & Honors

Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, SUNY Plattsburgh (2011)
Sudds & Munk Outstanding Senior Award, SUNY Plattsburgh (2011)
Senior Leadership Achievement Award, SUNY Plattsburgh (2011)
Scholars in Biomedical Science Award, Stony Brook University (2017)

Affiliations

Valhalla Fellow, Whitehead Institute

Question

How can the immune system be manipulated to clear the body of cancerous cells, especially in the case of pancreatic cancer? 

Approach

The Oni lab seeks to uncover the elements of effective anti-tumor immunity and develop novel antibody-based tools to induce tumor clearance by immune effector cells. The lab focuses on pancreatic cancer, a highly lethal malignancy with limited treatment options, with the ultimate goal of inspiring the development of breakthrough therapies for this deadly disease. 

Oni’s graduate work focused on developing tools for the early detection of pancreatic cancer, and on identifying the mechanisms that drive malignant progression—which can become targets for new therapeutics. At CSHL, he helped develop one of the first mouse and human organoid models of pancreatic cancer and then used those models to identify tumor-specific metabolic vulnerabilities and resistance pathways. He also generated antibodies to abnormal proteins on the cell-surface of tumor cells, which are now being used to develop more effective methods for detecting pancreatic cancer.
 
At Whitehead Institute, Oni will focus on uncovering mechanisms for the poor anti-tumor immune response to pancreatic cancer, and work to develop novel ways of promoting tumor clearance by immune cells. He hopes to uncover new avenues and develop tools for targeting pancreatic cancer in order to improve patient outcomes, inspire and mentor the next generation of scientists from diverse backgrounds, and build collaborative networks across disciplines to solve some of the most challenging biological questions.


Bio

Oni grew up in Ikare-Akoko, Nigeria, earned a BS in biology in 2011 from State University of New York at Plattsburgh and a PhD in cell and molecular biology in 2020 from Stony Brook University, where he was selected as a Scholar in Biomedical Science. He performed his graduate research with David Tuveson, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Cancer Center. He joined the Whitehead Institute as a Whitehead Fellow in 2021.