T Cell Biology & Immunotherapy Program

T Cell Biology & Immunotherapy

The T Cell Biology & Immunotherapy Program at the CDI investigates T cell development in the thymus and T cell immune responses in peripheral tissues. The program’s mission is to improve the knowledge of T cell development, infection immunity, autoimmune inflammation, tumor immunity and alloimmunity. Through collaborations between the CDI, John Theurer Cancer Center, and the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, our program aims at translating this knowledge to novel approaches to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy, therapeutic intervention of autoimmunity and alloimmunity, and prevention of infection.

The T Cell Biology & Immunotherapy Program creates an outstanding scientific environment to support both basic and translational research.

Dr. Xue’s lab studies transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of T cell activation and differentiation in response to pathogen infection and in the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Xue and colleagues discovered the importance of transcription factor TCF1 in T cell-mediated infection immunity, tumor immunity and humoral immunity.

Dr. Zhang’s lab investigates epigenetic regulation of antigen-driven T cell differentiation, survival and function in the setting of allo-HCT and cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Zhang’s lab introduced the concept of alloantigen-sensitized stem cell memory T cells, which stimulates the development of strategies to produce chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells with long-term persistence and enhanced anti-tumor immunity. Dr. Zhang and colleagues discovered the key role of chromatin-modifying enzyme EZH2 in regulating tumor immunity and alloimmunity.

Dr. Zakrzewski studies cancer immunotherapy and immunosurveillance by exploiting the endogenous capacity of the thymus to generate genetically modified T cells, and by harnessing advances in gene therapy and CAR-T cell technology.

Dr. Rosenstein is board-certified in Dermatology. Dr. Rosenstein’s lab focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of cutaneous inflammatory and fibrotic diseases, with a specific interest in cutaneous manifestations of oncologic therapies, and inflammatory signals that promote development of chronic graft-versus-host disease after allo-HCT.

Dr. Lapidus is a Pediatric Rheumatologist. Dr. Lapidus investigates pediatric rheumatic conditions and autoinflammatory disorders. She has led collaborative research nationally and internationally on optimizing diagnostic and therapeutic advances in pediatric rheumatology, such as recurrent fever syndromes, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, autoinflammatory bone diseases and vasculitis.

Dr. Desai investigates organ-specific mechanisms involved in the regulation of innate immune responses, focusing on invasive fungal infections. The Desai lab aims to decipher the tissue-specific interplay between complement and fungi and its impact on local and systemic immunity. Both in vivo murine infection/colonization models and genetically engineered mouse/fungal strains have been developed for define protective host immune mechanisms.

Dr. Lu is a cancer immunologist. The Lu lab studies signaling molecules, transcription factors, cytokines and co-inhibitory molecules in T cell-mediated tumor immune responses. The lu lab has recently discovered that danger signals IL-33 and IL-36 can promote effector function in Th1 cells, CD8 T cells, NK cells and gamma delta T cells, and thereby promoting antitumor immunity. Lu and his colleagues are also actively exploring these molecules as therapeutic agents for immunotherapy of cancer.

Furthermore, our program leverages the cutting-edge platforms at the CDI, the GTLCCC, The Institute for Multiple Myeloma and Lymphoma (iMML), and The Institute for Cancer and Infectious Diseases (iCID) to strengthen the interactions to advance our knowledge of immunology and immunotherapy.