Katy Rezvani M.D., Ph.D.
Sally Cooper Murray Chair in Cancer Research
Professor of Medicine
Chief, Section of Cell Therapy
Director, Cell Engineering GMP Lab
Executive Director, Adoptive Cell Therapy Platform
Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., is the Sally Cooper Murray Endowed Chair in Cancer Research; a Professor of Medicine; the Chief of the Section of Cellular Therapy in the Department of Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy; Executive Director of the Adoptive Cell Therapy Platform; and Director of Translational Research and Medical Director of the MD Anderson GMP and Cell Therapy Laboratory. Her lab studies the role of natural killer (NK) cells in mediating immunity against glioblastoma as well as other solid tumors and seeks to understand the mechanisms of tumor-induced NK cell dysfunction. The goal of her research is to develop strategies for genetically engineering NK cells to enhance their in vivo anti-tumor activity and persistence. Her laboratory has extensive experience in multi-parameter flow cytometry, CyTOF, xenogenic NSG mouse models of human cancer and various molecular biology techniques. She leads the NK immunotherapy program at MD Anderson and translate multiple innovative strategies from bench to bedside, including a first-in-human trial of CAR NK cells in patients with lymphoid malignancies. She serves as the leader of the Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Support Grant. She has served as co-PI for the Cancer Medicine Fellowship T32 program at MD Anderson Cancer Center since 2018 and as a CPRIT TRIUMPH Faculty mentor since 2019. She has had 19 trainees in her laboratory. Thirteen of her former trainees hold faculty positions at academic institutions. She has also served on the mentoring committees of multiple junior faculty members and the thesis committees of numerous Ph.D. students.
May Daher, M.D.
I am a physician scientist at the rank of Assistant Professor and the associate director of translational research in the Department of Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center. My laboratory research focuses on developing novel cellular engineering strategies to enhance potency of cellular therapy products (especially NK cells), decrease toxicity, surmount the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and circumvent immune evasion mechanisms developed by tumors. My goal is to develop novel off-the-shelf cellular therapy products for patients with cancer in general and hematologic malignancies in particular. I have developed multiple cellular therapy products that are being translated to the clinic through our GMP facility. I have extensive laboratory experience in flow cytometry, mass cytometry, molecular biology, immunometabolism, NK cell engineering and gene editing and xenogenic mouse models of human cancers. My clinical expertise is in stem cell transplant and cellular therapy for the treatment of patients with hematologic malignancies with a special focus on MDS and AML. I am passionate about my research and fully committed to develop novel cellular therapy products that we can scale up in our GMP facility and translate from the bench to the bedside to treat patients with cancer.
Hind Rafei, M.D., M.S.
I am an Assistant Professor in the department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy and my research is focused on modulating immunometabolism to enhance cancer cellular therapies. My specific interest is in bringing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-based therapies for solid tumors from the research lab to the clinic. To this end, I chose the physician-scientist track during my Hematology/Oncology fellowship at MD Anderson and I joined Dr. Katy Rezvani’s lab where I have focused my endeavors on studying determinants of metabolic immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment and developing innovative methods to modulate the metabolism of natural killer (NK) cells using state of the art genetic engineering strategies to enhance their potency for anticancer therapy. During my fellowship, I also obtained a Master of Science degree in Cancer Biology and Immunotherapy focused on the metabolic reprogramming of CAR-NK cells. I have a broad background in immunology with specific expertise in the use of flow cytometry methods, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology, xenogenic NSG mouse models, functional metabolic assays, and various molecular biology techniques. I strive to continue to contribute to the field of cellular therapy to improve the outcomes of cancer patients through cutting edge translational research.
Paul Lin, M.D., Ph.D.
I decided to pursue the Medical Scientist Training Program because I was interested in developing new therapies to treat human diseases and felt that this was best accomplished in a combined M.D./Ph.D. program. The medicine background will give me insight into the disease process, while the Ph.D. will develop my abilities to effectively answer the research questions. My interest is in cellular therapy and I initially worked in Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia’s lab as an undergraduate student working on tissue engineering of an artificial liver. I continued to pursue my interest in cellular therapy by training with Dr. Arnold Caplan at Case Western Reserve University and worked on mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), which eventually led to my Ph.D. I developed a new method of systemic cellular delivery that allowed MSCs to home to sites of injury. I also developed new techniques to genetically manipulate MSCs and thus expand their capabilities.
As part of my continuity clinic in my first year of fellowship, I spent a day a week treating patients with multiple myeloma in the clinics of Dr. Muzaffar Qazilbash and Dr. Robert Orlowski. I pursued my interest in multiple myeloma by conducting research on the use of reduced conditioning regimens in allogeneic transplant of multiple myeloma patients with Dr. Qazilbash that has resulted in a published manuscript. I also became interested in Dr. Katy Rezvani’s research with CAR natural killer (NK) cells as this research would allow me to expand my interest in cellular therapy and genetic manipulation of cells that I learned in my Ph.D.
My current research involves using CAR-NK cells as cellular therapy for the treatment of multiple myeloma by genetically modifying the NK cells with specific targets to multiple myeloma to enhance their killing abilities and knocking out checkpoint pathways that cancer cells utilize to suppress NK cell response. I plan on taking this to the clinic similar to other CAR NK cells in ongoing first-in-human clinical trials at MD Anderson.
Pinaki Banerjee, Ph.D.
Dr. Banerjee is a PhD on adaptive immunity where he defined CD4T
cell activation by a costimulatory molecule, which was derived from B
cells. During his PhD he also worked on B cell-mediated CD8T cell and
macrophage-mediated CD4 T cell activation. His post-doctoral study was
mainly on innate immunity, where he worked on PBMC-derived NK cells
with special emphasis on Primary Immunodeficiencies and the changes of
NK cell surface markers in health and disease conditions. At present,
Dr. Banerjee’s interest is to study changes in immune markers on
therapeutic cells before and after these cells are infused into the
patients, and also during the treatment. He is further interested to
learn how the immune cells from the body of the patients change over
time and relating these changes to the response of the therapy. For
these in-depth immune-correlative studies, he implies most of the
aspects of flow cytometry. In brief, Dr. Banerjee designs and sets up
15 + color panels on conventional flow cytometers to get an overall
idea of the immune markers. Side by side, using a Spectral
flow-cytometer he also establishes 30+ color panels and analyzes the
distribution of the expression of the markers on single cell basis.
Further to see the localization of the markers in and/or on the
surface of the cells Dr. Banerjee uses the imaging flow cytometer and
develops algorithms to analyze those data. He is also interested in
single-cell genomics and has established a method in the laboratory to
study the immune cells on a single cell level by a combination of flow
cytometry and molecular biology-based method. Moreover, at present,
he is working on RNA sequencing on a single-cell level.
Rafet Basar, M.D.
I am an Assistant Professor within the department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Throughout my postdoctoral career at MD Anderson Cancer Center, I have focused my endeavors on genetic engineering of immune cells for the purpose of cellular therapy. My work includes developing innovative methods to enhance the potency of NK cellular therapy products using state of the art genetic engineering strategies for the treatment of leukemias and lymphomas, engineering cytotoxic T cells to treat post-transplant viral infections and on characterizing B cells for the purpose of viable expansion and suppression and role in tumor milieu. My laboratory research includes extensive use of mass cytometry methods, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology, xenogenic NSG mouse models of human cancer and various molecular biology techniques. I strive to continue contributing to the field of cellular therapy to improve outcomes of patients who suffer from hematologic malignancies and other cancers.
Enli Liu, M.D.
Enli Liu, M.D., MS, is a Scientific Manager at Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Research, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas (MDACC). I joined Dr. Rezvani’s laboratory at the MDACC in 2012 from Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine where I gained first-hand experience on designing constructs that can be used to genetically engineer T-cells to express chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) for use in immunotherapy, generating retroviral vector stable producer cell lines, monitoring transgene in vivo, etc., which laid the foundation for my work at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Throughout the years of my service at MDACC under Dr. Rezvani’s guidance, I worked together with my team members and developed the method of engineering and expanding cord blood NK cells to express IL-15 and CD19-targeted CAR, which led to the first-in-human clinical trial of off-the-shelf CAR-transduced cord blood-derived NK cells in patients with relapsed/refractory lymphoid malignancies. My research focuses on cancer immunotherapy involving different CARs against a number of tumor antigens, and I will continue to contribute to the field of cancer immunotherapy, developing cutting-edge treatments for patients.
Luciana Melo Garcia
Xin Ru “Cheryl” Jiang
Ye “Ethan” Li
GMP CAR NK Team
Sheetal Rao, Ph.D.
Director of Quality Assurance
Director of Cell Engineering
Bin Liu, Ph.D.
Scientific Project Director
Scientific Project Director
Mayra Shanley, Ph.D.
PhD, Sr. Scientist
Xinhai Wan, Ph.D.
Dexing Fang, Ph.D.
Hibah Callies, MHA, CHFP
Director, Research Planning & Development
Luis Muniz, Ph.D.
Hilla A. Janjua