Dr. Roussos Torres received a BS in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and a BA in World Arts and Cultures with a concentration in Dance from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She then went on to receive her combined MD/PhD from the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Her PhD focused on novel markers of breast cancer metastasis in the lab of Dr. John Condeelis. Dr. Roussos Torres then completed her internal medicine residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She began her hematology/ oncology fellowship training at the University of Pennsylvania and following the completion of her major clinical requirements, she transferred to Johns Hopkins University to pursue her research interests in cancer immunology under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee. Her enthusiasm for both basic and translational cancer research led to her being awarded the first MacMillan fellowship from Johns Hopkins, which helped launch her career in laboratory translational research. Dr. Roussos Torres graduated from fellowship and began her faculty career as an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California she leads her own lab and works collaboratively with other physicians and physician scientists to continue her work in immune-oncology with a specific interest in breast cancer.
A long-term goal of immunotherapy is to significantly prolong the lives of patients with breast cancer without the toxicity of traditional chemotherapy. Unlike chemotherapy, the beneficial effects of immunotherapy continue to work even after treatment has stopped. These lasting effects translate to years of improved quality of life and disease stability even in cases where breast cancer has spread to other organs in the body. One hurdle that needs to be overcome is to broaden the approval of immunotherapy to include more patients diagnosed with breast cancer. To help bring this life saving therapy to more patients, we need to better understand how different sub-sets of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment contribute to the sub-optimal immune response to checkpoint inhibition. Dr. Roussos Torres’ lab investigates suppressor cells such as myeloid derived suppressor cells, and T regulatory cells as well as other types of immune cells such as tumor associated macrophages and how these cells function to prevent immune activation. The work in the lab aims to understand mechanisms of suppression so that we can design novel therapeutic combinations that will overcome these suppressive signals and improve response to immunotherapy in breast cancer.
Dr. Roussos Torres is very passionate about her research as well as her care of patients with cancer and training of the fellows to become compassionate and knowledgeable physicians. She is driven to make memorable contributions to the field of cancer research given her personal experience advocating for her mother who died from metastatic breast cancer in 2016. Dr. Roussos Torres felt passionate about having an impact on the field of breast cancer prior to her mother’s diagnosis but learning about the devastation of metastatic disease as the family member of a patient provided a different perspective and drive for novel treatment options.
Dr. Roussos Torres loves her work but also prioritizes her family life; her husband Dr. Stephen Torres is an orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine and together they have three sons, Owen (5 years old), James (3 years old) and Luke (1 year old) who fill their life with joy and make every day a wonder! The Torres family also has two Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Jackson (9 years old) and Emma (6 years old) who greatly contribute to our active lifestyle! Dr. Roussos Torres enjoys traveling, eating out at new restaurants and road biking! Dr. Roussos Torres grew up in Santa Monica and is so happy to have returned to Southern California where she and her husband can raise their family near her own siblings, their families, and her father who still resides here.