Dr Brentjens obtained an MD/PhD (microbiology) from SUNY Buffalo, completed residency in medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital, and a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Currently, Dr Brentjens is an member on the faculty at MSKCC and an attending physician on the leukemia service. As a medical oncology fellow during his training at MSKCC, Dr Brentjens initiated the initial pre-clinical studies demonstrating the potential clinical application of autologous T cells genetically modified to target the CD19 antigen through the retroviral gene transfer of artificial T cell receptors termed chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). Following completion of his medical oncology training, Dr Brentjens became the principle investigator of his own laboratory. As a PI, Dr Brentjens successfully translated these studies to the clinical setting treating patients with relapsed CD19+ tumors including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). Ongoing pre-clinical research in the laboratory is focused on the further development of CAR modified T cells designed to overcome the hostile immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment through the generation of “armored CAR T cells” currently being translated to the clinical setting as second generation CAR modified T cell clinical trials. Additionally, work in the Brentjens’ lab has expanded this CAR technology to target additional tumor antigens expressed on other malignancies including solid tumors.
Associate Professor Ann Chidgey obtained her BSc and Dip.Ed at the University of Melbourne. She subsequently developed her interest in Immunology while on a professional Federal Govt Aid Program in Zimbabwe (Africa), during a time when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was being discovered. Ann returned to Melbourne to complete her Honours degree and PhD (1998) in the Dept of Immunology, Monash University.
Ann established her expertise in Thymus and T cell biology, working in the laboratory of Prof Richard Boyd at Monash University (MISCL, Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories) and during her extended research training at MIT (Boston, USA), Amgen Institute (Toronto, Canada), Basel Institute and University of Basel (Basel, Switzerland) and the MRC Centre for Immune Regulation (University of Birmingham, UK). During this period, while assisting in the management of the laboratory's commercial programs, she began to develop her own research group focusing on characterising postnatal thymic epithelial stem cells.
Ann became Head of the Thymus Development, Ageing and Regeneration Laboratory in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology in 2016. Her research group investigates the mechanisms underpinning early thymus ageing with a current focus on the role of postnatal thymic epithelial stem cells in ageing and recovery from chemotherapy damage, and influences from surrounding resident stromal cells on their state of quiescence and differentiation. Her research interfaces immunology, stem cell biology and biomaterials engineering in developing strategic approaches for thymus and T cell rejuvenation.
Dr. Gay Crooks is Professor and Rebecca Smith Chair in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics in the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Crooks serves as Co-Director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center and Director of the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. The research focus of her lab has been informed by her clinical role as a pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant physician at UCLA, and encompasses four related areas of interest: 1. The cellular and molecular characterization of human hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and early lymphoid development, 2. Mechanisms of growth and differentiation of the thymic micro-environment during development and after transplantation, 3. Development of hematopoiesis and other mesoderm derivatives from human pluripotent stem cells (PSC), and 4. Manipulation of T cell differentiation from HSC and PSC for cancer immunotherapy.
Dr. Dudakov is an Assistant Member in the Program in Immunology as part of the Clinical Research Division and the Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington. Dr. Dudakov graduated with a PhD in Immunology and Stem Cell Biology from Monash University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Immunology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. In 2016 Dr. Dudakov moved to Seattle to establish his lab in at the Fred Huth. The Dudakov lab is working to understand the mechanisms underlying natural thymic regeneration so that new therapies can be developed to enhance T cell immunity. Such interventions would be extremely valuable for patients who undergo thymus-damaging radiation and/or chemotherapy, including the generally aggressive “conditioning” required before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Targeted thymic regeneration could also significantly benefit individuals with T cell deficiencies due to aging, genetic causes (such as severe combined immunodeficiency), chronic infectious disease (such as HIV), or radiation injury (such as from nuclear accident).
Daniel Gray is interested in how immune cells make life-or-death decisions and the implications of defects in this process on cancer. He completed his PhD at Monash University in Melbourne with Professor Richard Boyd, studying how the stromal cells of the thymus govern thymocyte differentiation. He then moved to Boston for his postdoctoral studies in Diane Mathis and Christophe Benoist’s laboratory at the Harvard Medical School. There he focused on how autoimmune diseases are initiated in the Aire-deficient mouse model. Daniel was then recruited back to Melbourne to work with Andreas Strasser at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute on the interface between defects in apoptosis and autoimmune diseases. He started his independent team in 2013 and became the Joint Head of the Immunology Division in 2019.
A/Prof Simon Harrison is the Head of the Myeloma service at VCCC and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Director of Clinical Apheresis and the Cellular Immunotherapy Program, and a clinician scientist in the Sir Peter MacCallum department of Oncology in Melbourne University.
Clinical research: His clinical research is focused in the field of multiple myeloma examining novel therapies including novel drug combinations, early phase clinical trial design, the incorporation of novel biomarkers into clinical protocols and cellular immune therapy such as Car T.
Laboratory research: A/ Prof Harrison work focuses on the immunopathology of multiple myeloma, the impact of novel drug combinations and cellular immune therapies. He is also collaborating on the development of POL1 inhibitors in combination with other novel drugs to target ribosome biogenesis.
Helen Heslop is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, and the Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital. She is also Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Dan L Duncan Cancer Comprehensive Center. Dr Heslop is a physician scientist engaged in translational research focusing on adoptive immunotherapy with gene-modified effector cells, to improve hemopoietic stem cell transplantation and cancer therapy. An additional focus in reconstituting antiviral immunity post transplant and she has led an NHLBI-funded multicenter trial of allogeneic multivirus specific T cells. She therefore has extensive experience in developing and conducting transplant studies and cell and gene therapy studies and currently holds over 20 INDs. She was a Doris Duke distinguished clinical research scientist and is an elected member of the American Association of Physicians. She serves as Principal Investigator on several peer-reviewed research programs, including an NCI-funded program project grant (Enhancing T-Cell Therapy of Cancer) a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) award (Immunotherapy of Lymphoma), the Meg Vosberg Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team in T cell lymphoma and a SPORE in lymphoma from the NCI. She is also the principal investigator on an NHLBI-funded training grant in Cell and Gene Therapy and Chair-elect of the BMT-CTN. She is a past President of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplant (ASBMT) and the Foundation for Accreditation of Cell Therapy (FACT).
Dr. Hofmeister joined TCR² Therapeutics in 2015 as the Senior Vice President of Research and Development. He brings nearly two decades of scientific leadership and a successful track record of drug discovery and early development. Previously, Dr. Hofmeister was the Vice President of Immuno-Oncology at EMD Serono where he was involved in the development of now approved Bavencio® (avelumab) and building the company’s immuno-oncology platform. He started his biotech career at Micromet AG, now Amgen Research Munich, where he helped shape the development of Blincyto®, the first FDA-approved bispecific antibody for the treatment of relapsed/refractory ALL. Dr. Hofmeister received his PhD from the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he studied the signaling of the cytokine interleukin-1. He continued to work in the cytokine field as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute.
Prof. Georg AHolländer was trained in both Paediatrics and Experimental Immunology in Switzerland and the U.S. He held academic positions at Harvard Medical School, Boston, U.S. and the University of Basel, Switzerland, before he joined the University of Oxford, UK (2010). He is interested in the development and function of the immune system in health and disease. His particular scientific focus concerns the molecular and cellular control of thymus development and function.
Professor Rajiv Khanna obtained his doctorate degree from India and undertook his postdoctoral training at the University of Adelaide and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). He is currently Group Leader of the Tumour Immunology Laboratory and also holds a Senior Principal Research Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Professor Khanna is the founding director of the internationally recognised Australian Centre for Vaccine Development (now the QIMR Centre for Immunotherapy and Vaccine Development).
Professor Khanna has extensive expertise in clinical trial design, vaccine design and cancer immunology/immunotherapy. Over the last decade he has successfully translated his research into the development of novel immune-based therapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer patients and transplant recipients with viral complications.
Dr. Andras Nagy is a Shawn Kimel Senior Scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto, Investigator at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Professor at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute in Monash University, Melbourne. He holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Regeneration. He also has a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada in the Life Sciences Division of the Academy of Science and is a Foreign Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Nagy has made significant breakthroughs in the development of mouse and human pluripotent stem cells (both embryonic and induced) that could accelerate research in regenerative medicine and lead to future therapies for currently incurable diseases, such as blindness, diabetes, arthritis, spinal cord injury and many others. His team created the first two Canadian human embryonic stem cell lines and developed a novel method for generating non-viral induced pluripotent stem cells. His current research focuses on understanding the process of reprogramming to stem cells at the molecular level and by using sophisticated genome editing methodology, he aims to pave the way to safe and effective cell based therapies for many complex diseases.
Professor Miles Prince is an internationally recognised Australian haematologist and Professor/Director of Cancer Immunology and Molecular Oncology at Epworth Healthcare and a haematologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. He is a very active clinician-researcher and is a Chief Investigator of an NHMRC Cancer Immunology Program Grant examining novel immunotherapies. He has been involved in numerous clinical trials of new therapies for blood cancers and has been the Principal Investigator of over 200 clinical trials. He has published over 430 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Health & Medical Sciences.
Clare is a Senior Research Fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Her current research interests are in understanding the interaction between the immune system and cancer, and in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer. These interests include the use of genetically modified T cells (CAR T cells) to treat solid cancers. Clare has published over 30 papers in high-impact journals including first and last authorships in Nature Medicine, PNAS,Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer Discovery. She has obtained over $2M research funding, including 3 fellowships and 5 CIA project grants. Her accomplishments have been acknowledged with a number of awards including the Seymour and Vivian Milstein Young Investigator Award for notable contributions to basic and clinical research in Switzerland (2012), a Joseph Sambrook Award in Research Excellence (2014), and the respected Mavis Robertson Award (2018) that is given each year to a female principal investigator considered to exhibit the greatest promise as a leader in breast cancer research in Australia.
Professor White is the Director: Cancer Program and Deputy Precision Medicine Theme Leader at SAHMRI. She is a NHMRC RD Wright Biomedical Research Fellow, a Beat Cancer Prinicpal Research Fellow, and Professor in both Health and Medical Sciences and The Sciences at the University of Adelaide.
Deb’s research focus is genomics and rationally targeted therapies in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and she holds several peer reviewed international and national grants. Professor White has presented > 170 scientific papers, authored > 100 publications and is an inventor on several patents.
Deb is the National Flagship Lead for the ALL Stream of Australian Genomics, and SA scientific lead for Zero Children’s Cancer and an Editor for Cancer Letters.
In 2014 she was recognised as the ASMR Leading Light and in 2016 awarded the University of Adelaide James McWha medal. In 2019 she was awarded a NHMRC Research Excellence Award.
Dr. Yee is a Professor in the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Department of Immunology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center and Director of the Solid Tumor Cell Therapy Program. He previously held the position of Professor at Division of Oncology at the University of Washington and a Member in Program in Immunology, Clinical Research Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Yee Lab is developing adoptive cellular therapy as a treatment modality for patients with malignant and viral diseases. Over the last 18 years, Dr. Yee’s research has been focused on the isolation of autologous antigen-specific T cells from the peripheral blood, manipulation of immune modulating parameters to enhance effector function and persistence and their expansion to numbers sufficient for adoptive transfer and in vivo tracking.
As the first scientist to identify and isolate mammalian blood-forming stem cells in mice, Dr. Weissman is considered the father of hematopoiesis. His group has successfully defined the stages of development that occur between stems cells and mature progeny. He has also discovered human hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and human brain cell forming stem cell populations, as well as murine skeletal muscle and osteochrondal stem cells. His work on human HSCs led to a trial at Stanford sponsored by SyStemix of cancer-free purified HSCs to rescue stage IV breast cancer patients after high-dose therapies, and resulted in 33 percent of patients alive at 15 years versus 7 percent for unpurified cells. Similarly, brain-forming stem cells previously identified by Dr. Weissman are also currently in clinical trials for a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, Dr. Weissman has pioneered the investigation of genes and proteins involved in cell adhesion events that are required for lymphocyte homing to lymphoid organs in vivo.
Recently, Dr. Weissman's laboratory has demonstrated that the protein CD47 is normally expressed on the surface of blood stem cells to protect them from macrophages. By blocking CD47 with a single antibody, Weissman’s team has been able to essentially cure most cases of human acute myeloid leukemia in mice. Treatment with this antibody has also been shown to synergize with rituximab to eliminate non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in mice. This work has since been expanded to include other human tumors transplanted into mice, specifically breast, ovarian, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors. Results of these experiments have shown shrinkage and/or disappearance of tumors in almost all cases and may lead to new methods by which to use the immune system to attack tumors.
Juan Carlos (JC) Zúñiga-Pflücker is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, and a Senior Scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute. He is a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Immunology. He received a Ph.D. in Genetics-Immunology from the George Washington University, Washington DC, USA, with his graduate studies performed at the National Cancer Institute, USA. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA. His research centers on the study of hematopoiesis, Notch signaling, thymus biology and T lymphocyte lineage commitment and differentiation, with a focus on developing model systems for the study of human T lymphocyte development from stem cells, and the generation of T cells for immune-regeneration and immune-regulatory therapies. His laboratory developed the OP9-DL system and discovered how to generate T cells from stem cells.