Mauro Di Pilato, Ph.D.
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Dr. Mauro Di Pilato is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Immunology at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He graduated from the University of Bari (Italy) in 2006 with a Master Degree in Medical Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine. After being awarded with a Leonardo da Vinci scholarship, he moved to the Spanish National Biotechnology Centre (CNB) in Madrid to study activation, cell cycle and apoptosis of T cells in autoimmunity and inflammation.
He joined the laboratory of Prof. Mariano Esteban (CNB) for his thesis in 2009. Here, he mainly worked in two different projects directed towards understanding the poxvirus-dependent mechanisms involved in the generation of antigen-specific T cell responses and to improving the poxvirus’ capacity to induce these responses (4 first-author original papers in J. Virol, J. Gen. Virol., PNAS, and J. Gen. Virol.). After obtaining his Ph.D. title in 2015, he performed a short stay in Switzerland in Dr. Santiago González laboratory for a collaborative project between CNB and Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) of Bellinzona, to study neutrophil and T cell migration and intracellular communication using in vivo two photon imaging after vaccinia infection in mouse model.
In 2015, he joined the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston as a Research Fellow in the Department of Rheumatology/Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Disease where he pursued work in Immunology with Dr. Thorsten Mempel. His main research work, funded by EMBO Long-Term and Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellowships, focused on how regulatory ans cytotoxic T cells exert their functions in tumor mouse models. As a result from this work, he published 2 first-author manscuripts in Nature and Cell, describing the biological basis of these new cancer immunotherapy approaches.
In 2019, he returned to Europe (Switzerland) in the IRB based on the stipulations of his last year of Marie Currie fellowship. Here, he was carrying out the project focused on how neutrophils shape antigen-specific T cell activation upon poxvirus vaccination (first-author publication in NPJ Vaccines).
The responses of different immune cell types to distinct tumor microenvironments as well as the future applications of immunotherapy in cancer are the focus of his independent research laboratory.
Senior Research Assistant
I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Shanghai (China) and I have been working as research assistant in Houston area in the past 20 years. I have experience in molecular and cellular biology and acquired great expertise in cloning, western blotting and cell culture.
In April 2021, I joined the Di Pilato lab where I am responsible for ordering animals and maintaining supplies. I am in charge of work area and equipment to ensure the laboratory operates safely, is clean, and all equipment is in good working order. I also instruct other staff and students in basic laboratory techniques and I am involved with them in the discussion of project goals and strategies.
I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Carabobo, Venezuela. After being awarded with a Latin American Fellowship by The National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, I moved to The Institute of Experimental Medicine-National Academy of Medicine of Buenos Aires where I studied the role of innate immune response against multidrug-resistant bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae. After obtaining my doctoral degree at The University of Buenos Aires in February 2022, I joined the Di Pilato lab where I am currently focused on the responses of distinct immune subsets within the tumoral microenvironment. With the aim of understanding T cell and neutrophil dynamics, we want to develop novel strategies to improve the response of patients to cancer immunotherapy.
I completed my Undergraduate (2009), Specialization (2011) and Master’s studies (2012) in Brazil, where my early research focused on dissecting MAPK signaling pathways in T brucei using quantitative phosphoproteomics. For my Ph.D. studies in Cancer Sciences (University of Glasgow), I was awarded with a scholarship from Cancer Research UK to investigate how hypoxia remodels the secretome of cancer-associated fibroblasts to promote angiogenesis. My Ph.D. work, completed in 2017, led to the discovery of novel pro-angiogenic signaling mechanisms mediated by the hypoxic tumor microenvironment (TME) in cancer. After concluding my Ph.D., I was awarded with a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Odyssey Program at MD Anderson to investigate key aspects of exosome biology, and their translational potential in immune modulation in cancer. In September 2022, I joined Dr. Di Pilato’s Lab to study the role of specific dendritic cells in the regulation of CD8 T cell functions, and to decipher how components of the TME alter T cell responses. Using a combination of cutting-edge single cell-based technologies, bioinformatics, and mouse models, our goal is to gain a comprehensive understating on how different components of the myeloid compartment rewire the biology of T cells, and how these newly discovered mechanisms can be translated into immunotherapeutic modalities that can benefit cancer patients.
Throughout of my research journey I have had the wonderful opportunity to gain international academic and research experience in four different countries. I grew up in South Korea and received BSc in life science from Handong Global University, South Korea. I got my Msc in medical microbiology from University of London and in virology from Purdue University. Finally, I obtained my Ph.D. in Immunology from University of Montreal where I continued my postdoctoral and teaching experience. During my Ph.D. and first postdoctoral research, I tried to understand the role of Inducible T cell costimulatory (ICOS) in Treg cell homeostasis and function using animal disease model. I joined the Di Pilato lab in September 2022 to investigate how we can manipulate Treg presence within tumor microenvironment and how this would impact on limited functionality in CD8 T cells. I am so happy to have a chance to work on world-class research with great scientists here.