Alex Kim

MSTP in PhD Training

Program: Immunology

Current advisor: Carl DeSelm, MD, PhD

Undergraduate university: University of California-Berkeley, 2017

Enrollment year: 2019

Research summary
Engineering Migratory Macrophages for Cell Therapy

I am conducting my thesis work in the lab of Dr. Carl DeSelm. The lab focuses on developing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-based cellular immunotherapies. While CAR T cells have been shown to be both safe and effective in treating various hematologic malignancies, they have shown less effectiveness against solid cancers. Solid cancers can undermine the effectiveness of these therapies by creating an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment that prevents immune cell infiltration and diminishes effector function of those cells that do penetrate into the tumors. My project aims to create CAR-antigen presenting cells designed to provoke an endogenous anti-tumor immune response, which will complement existing immunotherapies (CAR T cells, checkpoint inhibitors etc) in the treatment of solid human cancers. We are more specifically interested in seeing whether myeloid cells can be engineered to migrate more efficiently from tumors to tumor draining lymph nodes in order to bolster anti-tumor T cell responses, and whether this migratory phenotype might be combined with CAR engineering to improve cell therapies for cancer and beyond.

Graduate publications
Kim AB, Chou SY, Kang S, Kwon E, Inkman M, Szymanski J, Andruska N, Colgan C, Zhang J, Yang JC, Singh N, DeSelm C. 2023 Intrinsic tumor resistance to CAR T cells is a dynamic transcriptional state that is exploitable with low-dose radiation. Blood, (epub ahead of print):. PMCID: