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Dr. Rumey Ishizawar (middle) leads the Immuno-Oncology Group

Dr. Rumey Ishizawar has a clinical and research interest in managing patients who develop autoimmune presentations – such as inflammatory arthritis – from cancer immunotherapy. This interest led her to develop the UNC Immuno-Oncology Group (IOG).

The IOG is a collaborative multidisciplinary group composed of clinicians as well as clinical and basic researchers at UNC from the fields of rheumatology, oncology, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, oral medicine, nephrology, pharmacology and pulmonary medicine.

The IOG has two main objectives:
1) Facilitate the clinical care of cancer patients who develop immune related adverse events (irAEs) from cancer immunotherapy, specifically immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs).

2) Advance clinical, translational and basic research defining the mechanisms leading to irAEs, as these presentations can lead to better understanding of diverse autoimmune conditions.

Since 2017, the IOG has engaged with over 30 clinicians and researchers across medical specialties in order to optimize care for cancer patients who develop irAEs. In these efforts, the clinicians together have developed clinical algorithms to facilitate patient referrals and management of irAEs. In addition, the IOG has built a research infrastructure to investigate irAEs.

This IOG research infrastructure has two arms:
1) Retrospective study analysis of ICI use and irAE development through the UNC Healthcare System.

2) Prospective study enrolling patients starting ICI therapy and observing longitudinally for irAE development, which is described in more detail below.

The IOG is grateful for the support from Thurston Arthritis Research Center and Lineberger Cancer Comprehensive Center.

The Immune-Oncology Retrospective Study: Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Use at UNC, is a longstanding project examining treatments and outcomes of patients receiving ICI therapy at UNC since 2004. This project has supported residents and fellows across various medicine disciplines (Rheumatology, Pulmonary, Endocrine, Radiology, Hepatology), leading to several abstracts at national conferences, 2 publications, one accepted manuscript and others that are in preparation at this time.

The Immuno-Oncology Prospective Database and Bioregistry is a well-characterized longitudinal cohort of patients with standardized clinical data and biological samples for biomarker analysis, immunophenotyping, microbiome research, and genetic analysis to facilitate basic, clinical, and translational research. This study has been open to patient recruitment since February 2021.

Key Study Team Members: 

Rumey C. Ishizawar, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Principal Investigator


Shruti Saxena-Beem
Clinical Research Coordinator
Phone: (919) 966-0545


Shivani Surati, MSShivani Surati
Study Coordinator
Phone: 919-966-7597


Brent HendersonBrent Henderson
Study Coordinator, Clinical Trials Office