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.
Awards and Honors
- Highly Cited Researchers (Top 1%), Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics, 2022
News and Stories
UNC Lineberger faculty recognized as world’s most highly cited researchers
Twelve UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center members were named to Clarivate’s 2022 Highly Cited Researchers list.
UNC Lineberger faculty recognized as being among the world’s most influential researchers
Fifteen UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center members were named as 2021 Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate for publishing some of the most influential scientific papers during the past decade.
Gel enhances CAR-T immunotherapy benefits in brains surgically treated for glioblastoma
Researchers from UNC Lineberger and colleagues report pairing a newly developed gel with immunotherapy that was delivered to post-surgical lab models with glioblastoma improved the immunotherapy’s effectiveness.
Therapy using dual immune system cells effectively controls neuroblastoma
Hongwei Du, PhD, Gianpietro Dotti, MD, and colleagues developed a new therapeutic approach that has shown successful results in lab models.