Cassian Yee, M.D.
Adoptive Cell Therapy
About Dr. Yee
Dr. Yee is a pioneer in the field of adoptive cellular therapy and over the last two decades has developed specialized forms of antigen-specific T cell therapy for the treatment of patients with cancer. As a physician-scientist, his research converges multi-disciplinary approaches in bioengineering, metabolism, epigenetics and molecular immunology into enabling technologies that render adoptive cell therapy more effective and accessible as a treatment modality for patients. He holds more than 15 worldwide patents on ex vivo generation of antigen specific T cells, memory reprogramming and antigen discovery in an effort to establish immunotherapy-based cancer treatments on a global scale.
Fighting Cancer: It's Personal
What’s your Moon Shots focus?
We believe that the development of innovative strategies like cell therapy fulfill the visionary approach of the Moon Shots Program by improving the care of cancer patients. Our contribution to this continues to be translation of basic findings in our labs into the clinical arena.
What makes the Moon Shots Program stand out?
A clear and unwavering mandate that puts science into action through teamwork and innovation.
What motivates and excites you?
Two things: First, there are very few, if any, other therapeutic modalities that can move as quickly from the benchtop to the clinic, and all within the space and resources of MD Anderson Cancer Center. As both a scientist, uncovering fundamental findings in the lab that enhance T cell function, and shepherding that discovery through to a novel cell manufacturing process, and then, as an oncologist, to be treating these same patients in first-in-human clinical trials using technology developed in our lab – I find this to be one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.
Second, training new generations of researchers and clinicians in this realm of innovation and discovery over the last 20 years and into the future is a legacy I hope will contribute to making cancer history for as many patients as possible.
What makes your fight against cancer personal?
Uncles, aunts, and cousins I have known all died from cancers that were untreatable with conventional therapy. I felt it was time to do something unconventional.
What do you hope to accomplish?
We hope to develop strategies based on basic research that lead to a widely available treatment modality for all patients with cancer.
What else do you want people to know about you and your work?
Nothing can be accomplished without the incredible teamwork of people in our lab and the collaboration of colleagues.
The courage and perseverance of patients who fight cancer and participate in clinical trials inspire us every day.