Assistant Director, UNC Lineberger Immunotherapy Program
Area of Interest
My scientific training is in hematology and cancer immunology. When I joined the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy directed by Dr. Malcolm Brenner, at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, in 1998, my interest was in developing therapies for Epstein-Barr-Virus (EBV)-associated diseases and malignancies. I first contributed to the development of clinical protocols for the treatment of severe chronic EBV infections and for the prevention/treatment of EBV-associated lymphomas that occur in immunosuppressed patients after solid organ transplant. I then developed and extended my work on T-cell based therapy approaches to target non-viral antigens that are overexpressed in cancer cells such as cancer testis antigens. I also worked on genetic modification strategies that help T-cells better traffic to tumors, and render them resistant to tumor-associated inhibitory mechanisms.
More recently, I have been interested in the gene modification of T-cells to redirect them to tumors by transgenic expression of alpha-betaTCRs or of chimeric tumor-specific receptors (CARs), in particular for hematological malignancies such as CD19+ leukemia/lymphomas and CD30+ Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These approaches are currently in clinical trials.
Since joining the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, I am the assistant director of the UNC Lineberger Immunotherapy Program. In addition to continue my interest in the preclinical development of cancer immunotherapy approaches for hematological and solid tumors, I provide support in writing protocols, developing standard operating procedures and training T-cell processing staff operating in our good manufacturing practices (GMP) facility in order to implement T-cell therapy clinical trials at University of North Carolina. I have acquired this expertise during my 17 years at Baylor, where I have facilitated the development and implementation of several T-cell therapy trials.