My research efforts over the past several years have focused on researching immune T cell therapies that target cell surface markers that are specifically found on malignant cells. These T cell therapies have proven to be versatile and effective in research on several types of disease. One of these therapies we are currently testing in clinical trials is a treatment for infections due to a virus called CMV, which can cause fatal infections in patients who have undergone transplantation. My fellow researchers and I have developed a novel approach for efficient production of CMV-specific T cells for infusion into patients. Our lab is also developing T cell combination therapies targeting the tumor marker WT-1 in malignant mesothelioma. We are currently determining the effect of proteins that enhance the immune response (IL-15, anti CD137) when used in combination with T cells targeting WT-1 on mesothelioma cells in cancer models. More recently, we are also developing a T cell therapy utilizing the tumor marker NY eso-1 expressed on a rare pediatric cancer called synovial sarcoma and on adult malignancies such as small cell lung cancer and melanoma.
Another aspect of my research focuses on developing safer and more-effective blood stem cell transplants in patients with hematological disorders. Blood stem cell transplantation is a potentially curative therapy for many hematological disorders. However, many patients are unable to receive this therapy due to the lack of a suitably matched donor. I am investigating techniques to optimize efficacy and prevent fatal infections in patients receiving HLA-mismatched transplants from family members by developing specific strategies to replace deficient immune T-cells soon after transplantation.
In addition to patient care and research, I mentor graduate students who are pursuing degrees in immunology and guide them towards completion of their studies. This work allows me to stay abreast of new discoveries regarding immune responses and maintain a depth and breadth of knowledge in basic immunology that helps me better diagnose, understand, and treat clinical problems arising in patients.
As a physician-scientist, I am excited to be at a center that provides the infrastructure to sustain my research efforts and supports rapid translation of my bench research into patient care. The complex medical problems that we treat require a network of professionals working in concert to provide complete care to the patients and support to their families. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center provides the ideal environment for such care due to its highly trained and professional staff.