Clinical Assistant Professor
Cell Metabolism; Imaging In Vivo; Immunology; MRI - preclinical; Oncology; Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics; Technology; Translational imaging; Translational Research; Transplantation
I am a physician-scientist in the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) and cellular therapy. The primary goal of my translational research program is to elucidate mechanisms underlying immune barriers to successful HCT. GvHD is a prevalent and morbid complication of HCT that can affect multiple organs. By uncovering cellular metabolism switches within immune cells that are mediating GvHD, we are developing new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities for this condition. Currently, clinical diagnosis of GvHD is challenging and is based on either subjective clinical findings and/or biopsies of the affected organs. To address this important clinical need, my group has developed a non-invasive and non-radioactive metabolic imaging method for GvHD. Clinical testing of this approach is planned. Metabolic imaging may allow objective and safe diagnosis of GvHD and visualization of therapeutic responses in vivo. Furthermore, pre-clinical testing of metabolic inhibitors to reprogram alloreactive immune cells in pre-clinical models has shown promising results and we are planning clinical trials to test these therapies in patients undergoing HCT.
Additionally, we are developing a non-radioactive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) approach for cancer and cellular immunotherapy. By using deuterated isotopes, heavy water and heavy glucose, and deuterium MRI detection we have been able to visualize tumors and immune cells without the use of radioactivity. Pilot clinical testing of this approach in patients with malignancies is now planned. Furthermore, dMRI may have applicability in imaging cellular immunotherapy products after they are infused and may allow visualization of their activation within the tumor microenvironment (TME). This may not only serve as a useful pre-clinical tool for developing the next generation of cellular therapies, but may also be deployed for clinical prediction of early therapeutic responses to immunotherapy.