Our People

The Roybal Lab is a dedicated group of students, post-docs, physicians, and staff scientists with diverse backgrounds ranging from basic science to cellular engineering and synthetic immunology. Each member brings expertise in their field to our unique and highly collaborative research environment. We are now hiring, all positions! More info below.

Kole T. Roybal, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He is also an affiliate of the Gladstone Institute for Genomic Immunology.

Dr. Roybal was awarded the Sartorius and Science Magazine Prize for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy in 2017, the NIH New Innovator Award in 2018, and the Cancer Research Institute STAR Award in 2022. He received his doctorate in Immunology from UT Southwestern Medical Center and was a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Wendell A. Lim at UCSF and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Panagiotis “Panos” Christopoulos, Ph.D.
Visiting Scholar
panagiotis.christopoulos@ucsf.edu

Southern and Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst) Researcher, B.Sc in Biological Applications and Technologies - University of Ioannina, Greece, M.Sc in Molecular and Applied Physiology - Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, Ph.D in Dep. of Experimental Physiology - Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, Postdoc in Dep. of Pathology, section of research -Oslo University Hospital and University of Oslo, Norway

My previous work was focused on macrophage’s immunobiology in response to various stimuli, identification of their distinct activation phenotypes and the mechanisms thereof.  In my current research I am exploring the macrophages’ immunotherapeutic potentials in solid tumors using synthetic immunology tools. I am particularly interested in using engineered myeloid cells as a cellular platform for the treatment of various human diseases, from cancer to autoimmunity.

Select Publications:

Müller, E., Christopoulos, P.F., Halder, S., Lunde, A., Beraki, K., Speth, M., Øynebråten, I., and Corthay, A. (2017). Toll-Like Receptor Ligands and Interferon-γ Synergize for Induction of Antitumor M1 Macrophages. Front. Immunol. 8, 1383.

Müller, E., Speth, M., Christopoulos, P.F., Lunde, A., Avdagic, A., Øynebråten, I., and Corthay, A. (2018). Both Type I and Type II Interferons Can Activate Antitumor M1 Macrophages When Combined With TLR Stimulation. Front. Immunol. 9, 2520.

Kurena, B., Müller, E., Christopoulos, P.F., Johnsen, I.B., Stankovic, B., Øynebråten, I., Corthay, A., and Zajakina, A. (2017). Generation and Functional In Vitro Analysis of Semliki Forest Virus Vectors Encoding TNF-α and IFN-γ. Front. Immunol. 8, 1667.

Panagiotis “Panos” Christopoulos, Ph.D.

Visiting Scholar

Lindsey Draper, M.D.
Medical Oncology Fellow
lindsey.draper@ucsf.edu

Medical Oncology Fellow & Chan Zuckerberg Biohub - San Francisco Physician-Scientist Fellow. B.S. Biology - Juniata College, Postbac - National Cancer Institute (Laboratory of Steven A. Rosenberg), M.D. - University of Maryland School of Medicine, Postdoc - National Cancer Institute (Laboratory of Christian Hinrichs), Internal Medicine Residency – The Mount Sinai Hospital

My prior work includes characterizing tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) from HPV-associated malignancies and identifying two high-avidity HPV oncoprotein-specific T-cell receptors. This work has led to several clinical trials which demonstrated that TIL can elicit durable, complete responses in patients with metastatic cervical cancer, and that engineered T cells can mediate regression of epithelial malignancies without treatment-limiting on-target, off-tumor toxicities. Currently, I aim to leverage advances in cell engineering platforms to develop more effective cell therapies for patients with solid tumors.

Selected Publications:

Jin BY, Campbell TE, Draper LM, Stevanović S, Weissbrich B, Yu Z, Restifo NP, Rosenberg SA, Trimble CL, Hinrichs CS. Engineered T cells targeting E7 mediate regression of human papillomavirus cancers in a murine model. JCI Insight. 2018 Apr 19;3(8):e99488.

Stevanović S, Draper LM, Langhan MM, Campbell TE, Kwong ML, Wunderlich JR, Dudley ME, Yang JC, Sherry RM, Kammula US, Restifo NP, Rosenberg SA, Hinrichs CS. Complete regression of metastatic cervical cancer after treatment with human papillomavirus-targeted tumor-infiltrating T cells. J Clin Oncol. 2015 May 10;33(14):1543-50.

Draper LM, Kwong ML, Gros A, Stevanović S, Tran E, Kerkar S, Raffeld M, Rosenberg SA, Hinrichs CS. Targeting of HPV-16+ Epithelial Cancer Cells by TCR Gene Engineered T Cells Directed against E6. Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Oct 1;21(19):4431-9.

Lindsey Draper, M.D.

Medical Oncology Fellow

Daniel B. Goodman, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Daniel.Goodman@ucsf.edu

Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow (co-advised w/Jeff Bluestone and Alex Marson), B.S. Bioengineering/Bioinformatics - University of California, San Diego Ph.D. Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics - MIT and Harvard Medical School (Laboratory of George Church)

My work combines computational modeling, DNA synthesis, and multiplex screens to generate and measure targeted libraries of thousands of genetic elements, genes, and genomes. My current research is focused on understanding and manipulating T-cell signaling through the design and testing of of synthetic cell-surface receptors.

Selected Publications:

Daniel B. Goodman*, Gleb Kuznetsov*, Gabriel T. Filsinger*, Matthieu Landon, Nadin Rohland, John Aach, Marc J. Lajoie, George M. Church. Millstone: software for multiplex microbial genome analysis and engineering. Genome Biology, 18:101, 2017.

Gleb Kuznetsov*, Daniel B. Goodman*, Gabriel T. Filsinger*, Matthieu Landon, Nadin Rohland, John Aach, Marc J. Lajoie, George M. Church. Optimizing complex phenotypes through model-guided multiplex genome engineering. Genome Biology, 18:100, 2017.

Daniel B. Goodman, George M. Church, and Sriram Kosuri. Causes and Effects of N-Terminal Codon Bias in Bacterial Genes. Science, 342(6157):475–479, 2013.

Sriram Kosuri*, Daniel B. Goodman*, Guillaume Cambray, Vivek K. Mutalik, Yuan Gao, Adam P. Arkin, Drew Endy, and George M. Church. Composability of Regulatory Sequences Controlling Transcription and Translation in E. coli. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(34):14024–14029, 2013.

Marc J. Lajoie, Alexis J. Rovner, Daniel B. Goodman, Hans-Rudolf Aerni, Adrian D. Haimovich, Gleb Kuznetsov, Jaron A. Mercer, Harris H. Wang, Peter A. Carr, Joshua A. Mosberg, Nadin Rohland, Peter G. Schultz, Joseph M. Jacobson, Jesse Rinehart, George M. Church, and Farren J. Isaacs. Genomically recoded organisms expand biological functions. Science, 342(6156):357–360, 2013.

Daniel B. Goodman, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Raymond Liu, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Raymond.Liu@ucsf.edu

Postdoctoral Fellow – NIH T32 Training Grant, B.S. Biology – Stanford University, Ph.D. Biology – California Institute of Technology (Laboratory of David C. Chan)

My previous work has focused on the regulation of cytoskeleton regulators and dynamins, and on the implications of their interactions in human disease. My current research is focused on engineering improved T-cell responses for immunotherapy.

Selected Publications:

Zhu I, Liu R, Garcia JM, Hyrenius-Wittsten A, Piraner DI, Alavi J, Israni DV, Liu B, Khalil AS, Roybal KT. Modular design of synthetic receptors for programmed gene regulation in cell therapies. Cell. 2022 Apr 14;185(8):1431-1443.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.03.023. PMID: 35427499.

Jill A. Fahrner, Raymond Liu, M. Scott Perry, Jessica Klein, and David C. Chan. A Novel de novo Dominant Negative Mutation in DNM1L Impairs Mitochondrial Fission and Presents as Childhood Epileptic Encephalopathy. Am J Med Genet A, 170(8): 2002–2011, 2016.

Raymond Liu and David C. Chan. The mitochondrial fission receptor Mff selectively recruits oligomerized Drp1. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 26(24):4466-77, 2015.

Raymond Liu, Maria Teresa Abreu-Blanco, Kevin C. Barry, Elena V. Linardopoulou, Gregory E. Osborn, Susan M. Parkhurst. Wash functions downstream of Rho and links linear and branched actin nucleation factors. Development, 136: 2849-2860, 2009.

Raymond Liu, Sarah Woolner, James E. Johndrow, David Metzger, Adriana Flores, Susan M. Parkhurst. Sisyphus, the Drosophila myosin XV homolog, traffics within filopodia transporting key sensory and adhesion cargos. Development,135: 53-63, 2008.

Raymond Liu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Joseph Muldoon, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
joseph.muldoon@ucsf.edu

Postdoctoral Scholar (co-advised with Justin Eyquem), B.S. Biology, B.S. Chemistry ­– University of Virginia, Ph.D. Biological Sciences – Northwestern University (Laboratories of Joshua Leonard and Neda Bagheri)

In graduate school, I developed quantitative approaches to characterize immune signaling pathways and to design new pathways in mammalian cells. My current focus is on designing, screening, and characterizing synthetic receptors and gene circuits to improve the sensitivity and specificity of engineered T cell therapies.

Selected Publications:Muldoon J.J., Kandula V., Hong M., Donahue P.S., Boucher J.D., Bagheri N., and Leonard J.N. Model-guided design of mammalian genetic programs. Science Advances. 2021, 7:eabe9375.

Edelstein H.I., Donahue P.S., Muldoon J.J., Kang A.K., Dolberg T.B., Battaglia L.M., Allchin E.R., Hong M., and Leonard J.N. Elucidation and refinement of synthetic receptor mechanisms. Synthetic Biology. 2020, 5:ysaa017. *Equal contributions

Muldoon J.J., Chuang Y., Bagheri N.^, & Leonard J.N.^ Macrophages employ quorum licensing to regulate collective activation. Nature Communications. 2020, 11:878. ^Co-corresponding

Donahue P.S., Draut J.W., Muldoon J.J., Edelstein H.I.*, Bagheri N., & Leonard J.N. The COMET toolkit for composing customizable genetic programs in mammalian cells. Nature Communications. 2020, 11:779. *Equal contributions

Joseph Muldoon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dan I. Piraner, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Dan.Piraner@ucsf.edu

CRI Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow, B.S. Biochemistry & Chemistry – Purdue University, Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics – California Institute of Technology (Laboratory of Mikhail G. Shapiro)

My graduate work was focused on engineering genetic and protein-based switches to actuate specific cellular responses to mild temperature perturbations induced by noninvasive interventional methods such as Focused Ultrasound Hyperthermia. My current research aims center on creating improved cell surface receptors for cancer immunotherapy applications.

Selected Publications:

Zhu I, Liu R, Garcia JM, Hyrenius-Wittsten A, Piraner DI, Alavi J, Israni DV, Liu B, Khalil AS, Roybal KT. Modular design of synthetic receptors for programmed gene regulation in cell therapies. Cell. 2022 Apr 14;185(8):1431-1443.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.03.023. PMID: 35427499.

Abedi MH, Lee J, Piraner DI, Shapiro MG*. Thermal control of engineered T-cells. ACS Synthetic Biology 9, 1941-50 (2020).

Piraner DI, Wu Y, Shapiro MG*. Modular thermal control of protein dimerization. ACS Synthetic Biology 8, 2256-2262 (2019).

Piraner DI, Farhadi A, Davis HC, Wu D, Maresca D, Szablowski JO, Shapiro MG*. Going deeper: biomolecular tools for acoustic and magnetic imaging and control of cellular function. Biochemistry (2017).

Piraner DI#, Abedi MH#, Moser BA, Lee-Gosselin A, Shapiro MG*. Tunable thermal bioswitches for in vivo control of microbial therapeutics. Nature Chemical Biology 13, 75-80 (2017).

Dan I. Piraner, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Jaehoon Shin, M.D., Ph.D.
Resident
jaehoon.shin@ucsf.edu

MD - Seoul National University, PhD - Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

I am interested in imaging cancer molecular markers using engineered T cells. In my personal life I like cooking, hiking and spending time with my family.

Jaehoon Shin, M.D., Ph.D.

Resident

Staff Scientists

Clarity Chua
Junior Specialist
clarity.chua@ucsf.edu

B.A.S. Biochemistry and English - UCLA

My previous research at Revolution Medicines focused on understanding and countering potential resistance mechanisms of RAS mutant cancers to targeted therapy from the molecular biology angle. My research interests also include prior work on fusion protein treatment of CD20 lymphoma while at the Morrison lab at UCLA, neuropsychiatric research about the genetics of severe mental illness in the Freimer lab, and oral health educational research for primary care providers working with Dr. Ajesh George and Dr. Yenna Salamonson.

Currently, I work with Dan Goodman on the TCSL library project where we are developing a methodology of screening CAR T libraries in order to better understand the underlying biology of CARs and what components are essential for function.

Selected Publications:

George, A., Kong, A.C., Villarosa, A., Duff, M., Sheehan, A., Burns, E., Priddis, H., Chua, C. and Dahlen, H.G., 2020. Implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of an oral health module for the bachelor of midwifery program at an Australian university. Nurse education today, 90, p.104457.

Clarity Chua

Junior Specialist

Maria Jose Duran
Junior Specialist
maria.durangonzalez@ucsf.edu

B.S. Biotechnology - Costa Rica Institute of Technology

My research experience was mainly focused on protein crystallography, synthetic antivenom production, and cellular engineering. I helped build Compound Foods, a startup developing beanless coffee via synthetic biology, and later, fell in love with biomedicine engineering at Bashor Lab. My current research is focused on improving the activation and persistence of existing immunotherapies via surface receptor engineering. My personal interests include Tap Dancing, hiking, running, and FaceTiming with family.

Maria Jose Duran

Junior Specialist

Garrett Montgomery, M.S.

Lab Manager, Assistant Specialist III

Nate Perry, M.S.
Staff Research Associate II
nathaniel.perry@ucsf.edu

M.S. Cell and Molecular Biology – San Francisco State University

My graduate research focused on the RUS gene family and its role in regulating vitamin B6 in Arabidopsis. My current work involves developing shRNA-based circuits for immunotherapy applications.

Selected Publications:

Perry N, Leasure CD, Tong H, Duarte EM, He ZH. RUS6, a DUF647-containing protein, is essential for early embryonic development in Arabidopsis thaliana. BMC Plant Biol. 2021 May 25;21(1):232. doi: 10.1186/s12870-021-03011-8. PMID: 34034658.

Hyrenius-Wittsten A, Su Y, Park M, Garcia JM, Alavi J, Perry N, Montgomery G, Liu B, Roybal KT. SynNotch CAR circuits enhance solid tumor recognition and promote persistent antitumor activity in mouse models. Sci Transl Med. 2021 Apr 28;13(591):eabd8836. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abd8836. PMID: 33910981.

Nate Perry, M.S.

Staff Research Associate II

Chloe Thienpont
Asistant Specialist
chloe.thienpont@ucsf.edu

M.S. Biomedical Sciences – KU Leuven

My master thesis research was focused on identifying the immunological cellular mechanisms behind resolution of malaria associated–acute respiratory distress syndrome. I am currently working on modifying engineered T cells to improve their fitness and function, particularly in a solid tumor context.

Chloe Thienpont

Asistant Specialist

Sarah Wyman Ph.D.
Staff Scientist
sarah.wyman@ucsf.edu

BS Biomedical Engineering - Northwestern University

PhD Pathobiology - Johns Hopkins Medical Institute

Postdoc - Weill Cornell Medical College

My work in academia and industry (Regeneron and Cell Design Labs/Kite Pharma) has been focused on cell signaling in malignant and normal immune cells. I have co-authored Investigational New Drug (IND) Applications for biologics and cell therapies and several patents for a variety of novel synthetic receptors. I am particularly excited to help discover and bring new therapies for solid tumors into the clinic with the Roybal Lab.

Select Publications:

Kawabata K, Zong H, Meydan C, Wyman S et al. BCL6 maintains survival and self-renewal of primary human acute myeloid leukemia cells. Blood. 2021 Feb 11; 137(6):812-825. PMID: 32911532

Geng H, Brennan S, et al. Integrative epigenomic analysis identifies biomarkers and therapeutic targets in adult B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Cancer Discovery. 2012 Nov;2(11):1004-2. PMID: 23107779.

Brennan SK, Meade B, Wang Q, Merchant AA, Kowalski J, Matsui W. Mantle Cell Lymphoma Activation Enhances Bortezomib Sensitivity. Blood. 2010 Nov 18; 116(20):4185-91. PMID: 20570863

TGFbeta Receptors and Methods of Use; S Wyman, P Emtage, G Romain (US20200397823) 2020

Chimeric Transmembrane Receptors and Methods of Use; P Emtage, G Romain, R Vincent, S Wyman (US20200002402) 2020

Signaling domains for chimeric antigen receptors; R Ayvar, J Feng, C Guevara, J Muakami, H Nowyhed, S Wyman (WO2023069936A1) 2022

Sarah Wyman Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Students

Casey Burnett
PhD Student
casey.burnett@ucsf.edu

PhD Student in Biomedical Sciences (co-mentored by Drs. Kole Roybal and Matt Spitzer). National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. National Cancer Institute - Ruth L. Kirschstein NSRA Predoctoral Fellow (F31). B.A Human Biology from Stanford University.

My prior work focused on increasing efficacy and safety of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. My current project aims to integrate a systems biology perspective with synthetic engineering of immune cells to investigate the impact of engineered immune cells on the global immune landscape.

Selected Publications:

Burnett, C.E., Hauge Okholm, T.L., Tenvooren, I., Marquez, D.M., Tamaki, S., Sandoval, P.M., Willmore, A., The UCSF COMET Consortium, Hendrickson, C.M., Kangelaris, K.N., Langelier, C.R., Krummel, M.F., Woodruff, P.G., Calfee, C.S., Erle, D.J., Ansel, K.M., Spitzer, M.H., "Mass cytometry reveals a conserved immune trajectory of recovery in hospitalized COVID-19 patients", Immunity (2022)

Xiao Huang, Jasper Z. Williams, Ryan Chang, Zhongbo Li, Initha Setiady, Cassandra Burnett, Eric Gai, David M. Patterson, Yu Wei, Kole T. Roybal, Wendell A. Lim, and Tejal A. Desai. “DNA-scaffolded biomaterials enable modular and tunable presentation of proteins to control immune cells.” Nature Biotechnology. December 2020.

Breanne M. Alen, Kamir J. Haim, Cassandra E. Burnett, Anthony Venida, Rachel DeBarge, Yaron Carmi, Matthew H. Spitzer. “The Development, Function, and Plasticity of the Immune Macroenvironment in Cancer.” Nature Medicine. May 2020.

Benson M. George, Kevin S. Kao, Hye-Sook Kwon, Brenda J. Velasco, Jessica Poyser, Angela Chen, Alan C. Le, Akanksha Chhabra, Cassandra Burnett, Devon Cajuste, Malachia Hoover, Kyle M. Loh, Judith A. Shizuru, and Irving L. Weissman. “Antibody conditioning enables MHC-mismatched hematopoietic stem cell transplants and organ graft tolerance.” Cell Stem Cell. June 2019.

Casey Burnett

PhD Student

Max Foisey
PhD Student
Max.foisey@UCSF.edu

PhD Student in Biomedical sciences, B.S Biology- Keene State College

My previous work has centered around generating novel immunotherapies for use in cancer. During my undergrad I worked primarily on developing cancer vaccines. Later, I worked in industry focusing on using genome engineering tools to generate cell therapies like chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. My current work aims to expand the applications for synthetic receptors in human immune cells.

Max Foisey

PhD Student

Alumni

Camillia Azimi
PhD Student

PhD in Biomedical Sciences, UCSF B.A. Molecular and Cellular Biology | Emphasis in Immunology 2015 - University of California, Berkeley

My work within the Roybal lab was geared towards re-engineering T cell signaling to create novel exhaustion resistant T cell therapies for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Alongside Dan Goodman, we developed the CAR Pooling method: an approach that utilizes libraries of immune signaling domains and repetitive stimulations to allow for high throughput screening of CAR T treatments for persistent tumors. Through this we engineered the BAFF-R CAR and demonstrated it’s enhanced cytotoxicity and anti-tumor efficacy in cancers such as multiple myeloma.  I completed my PhD in the fall of 2022, and will begin a post doc position at Mount Sinai in 2023 working on innate immune cell engineering in the labs of Miriam Merad and Brian Brown.

Selected Publications:

Patent: Goodman, D. B.; Azimi, C. S.; Marson, A.; Bluestone, J.; Roybal, K.; High Throughput Engineering of T cell Signaling. 048536-673P01US, In Process.

Crawford ED,…Azimi CS, et al. Rapid deployment of SARS-CoV-2 testing: The CLIAHUB. PLoS Pathog. 2020;16(10):e1008966.

Azimi, C. S., Tang, Q., Roybal, K., Bluestone, J. (2019). NextGen Cell-Based Immunotherapies in Cancer and Other Immune Disorders. Current Opinions in Immunology, (59):79-87.

Ardolino, M., Azimi, C. S.,… Raulet, D. H. (2014). Cytokine therapy reverses NK cell anergy in MHC-deficient tumors. J Clin Invest, 124(11), 4781–4794. (edited)

Camillia Azimi

PhD Student

Maria Chirinos
Summer Intern

Maria joined the lab for the summer of 2021 as an undergraduate researcher. During this period, she worked with Nate Perry to develop a methodology for shRNA validation in Jurkat cells. Maria left the lab in the Fall to continue her coursework at CCSF, with plans to transfer to U.C. Berkeley and complete a B.S. in cell and molecular biology.

Maria Chirinos

Summer Intern

Jay Daniels, P.h.D
Postdoctoral Fellow
jay.daniels@ucsf.edu

B.S. Neuroscience – Johns Hopkins University

MD/Ph.D. Student – Northwestern University Medical Scientist Training Program

Ph.D. Life Sciences – Northwestern University (Laboratory of Jaehyuk Choi)

My graduate work identified cellular and genetic drivers of disease heterogeneity in T cell lymphomas. My current research is focused on enhancing the signaling, fitness and potency of anti-tumor T cells to overcome barriers to effective cell therapies.

Selected Publications:

Daniels J*, Doukas PG*, et al. Cellular origins and genetic landscape of cutaneous gamma delta T cell lymphomas. Nature Communications 11, 1806 (2020).

Park J*, Daniels J*, Wartewig T*, et al. Integrated Genomic Analyses of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphomas Reveal the Molecular Bases for Disease Heterogeneity. Blood. 2021;138(14):1225-1236.

Daniels J, Choi J. BACH2 is a putative T-cell lymphoma tumor suppressor that may play a role in product-derived CAR T-cell lymphomas. Blood. 2021 Dec 23;138(25):2731-2733.

Jay Daniels, P.h.D

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kiavash Garakani
Staff Scientist

Kiavash worked in the Roybal Lab from 2018 to 2019. He helped build and optimize bioinformatic analyses for the pool of CAR library screens. He is currently working as a research technician in the Cetrulo Lab at Mass General Hospital, with plans to attend the MD-PhD program at Columbia in Fall 2021.

Kiavash Garakani

Staff Scientist

Julie Garcia
PhD Student
Julie.Garcia@ucsf.edu

PhD Student in Biomedical Sciences, B.S. Biomedical Science, B.A. Classical Studies – Grand Valley State University

During my undergrad I studied pathways that control morphological changes of the opportunistic fungal pathogen, Candida albicans.  At multiple biotech companies, I worked on product development for T cell activation research tools, and on exploratory research teams developing engineered cellular therapies. I am currently developing novel receptors to achieve multi-faceted user defined signaling cascades in human T cells for application in cancer immunotherapy.

Selected Publications:

Hyrenius-Wittsten A, Su Y, Park M, Garcia JM, Alavi J, Perry N, Montgomery G, Liu B, Roybal KT. SynNotch CAR circuits enhance solid tumor recognition and promote persistent antitumor activity in mouse models. Sci Transl Med. 2021 Apr 28;13(591):eabd8836. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abd8836. PMID: 33910981.

Zhu I, Liu R, Garcia JM, Hyrenius-Wittsten A, Piraner DI, Alavi J, Israni DV, Liu B, Khalil AS, Roybal KT. Modular design of synthetic receptors for programmed gene regulation in cell therapies. Cell. 2022 Apr 14;185(8):1431-1443.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.03.023. PMID: 35427499.

Julie Garcia

PhD Student

Axel Hyrenius-Wittsten, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Axel.HyreniusWittsten@ucsf.edu

Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, B.S. Biomedicine – Lund University, Masters in Biomedicine – Lund University (Laboratory of Frank McCormick, UCSF), Ph.D. Biomedical Sciences - Lund University (Laboratory of Anna K. Andersson)

My graduate research was focused on phenotypic and molecular changes coupled to cooperation between genetic aberrations in acute leukemia. I am now developing novel engineered T cell therapies for enhanced recognition and treatment of solid tumors such as mesothelioma.

Selected Publications:

SynNotch CAR circuits enhance solid tumor recognition and promote persistent antitumor activity in mouse models BY AXEL HYRENIUS-WITTSTEN, YANG SU, MINHEE PARK, JULIE M. GARCIA, JOSEF ALAVI, NATHANIEL PERRY, GARRETT MONTGOMERY, BIN LIU, KOLE T. ROYBAL

SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE28 APR 2021

Hyrenius-Wittsten, A. and Roybal, K.T. Paving New Roads for CARs. Trends Cancer. 2019 Oct 5(10):583-592.

Hyrenius-Wittsten, A., Pilheden, M, Falqués-Costa, A., Eriksson, M., Sturesson, H., Schneider, P., Wander, P., Garcia-Ruiz, C., Liu, J., Ågerstam, H., Hultquist, A., Lilljebjörn, H., Stam, R.W, Järås, M., and Hagström-Andersson, A.K. FLT3N676K drives acute myeloid leukemia in a xenograft model of KMT2A-MLLT3 leukemogenesis. Leukemia. 2019 Sep 33(9):2310-2314

Hyrenius-Wittsten, A., Pilheden, M., Sturesson, H., Hansson, J., Walsh, MP., Song, G., Kazi, JU., Liu, J., Ramakrishan, R., Garcia-Ruiz, G., Nance, S., Gupta, P., Zhang, J., Rönnstrand, L., Hultquist, A., Downing, JR., Lindkvist-Petersson, K., Paulsson, K., Järås, M., Gruber, TA., Ma, J., and Andersson-Hagström, AK. De novo activating mutations drive clonal evolution and enhances clonal fitness in KMT2A-rearranged leukemia. Nature Communications. 2018 May 2;9(1):1770

Lilljebjörn, H., Henningsson, R., Hyrenius-Wittsten, A., Olsson, L., Orsmark Pietras, C., von Palffy, S., Askmyr, M., Rissler, M., Schrappe, M., Cario, G., M., Castor, A., Pronk, CJ., Behrendtz, M., Mitelman, F., Johansson, B., Paulsson, K., Andersson, AK., Fontes, M. and Fioretos, T. Identification of ETV6-RUNX1-like and DUX4- rearranged subtypes in paediatric B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Nature Communications 2016 Jun 6;7:11790

Axel Hyrenius-Wittsten, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Alyssa Indart
PhD Student
Alyssa.Indart@ucsf.edu

PhD Student in Biomedical Sciences (Co-advised by Jeffrey Bluestone), B.A Latin American History and Biochemistry-Columbia University

My current research focuses on elucidating aspects of the IL2 signaling pathway, as well as, identity shifts in regulatory T cells (Tregs) through cellular engineering in the context of type 1 diabetes. I am intrigued with the clinical ramifications controlled synthetic cytokine-receptor systems could have in autoimmune diseases with overlapping immune cell dysfunctions. Previously at the NIH, my research focused on the relationship between TCR signaling, CD28 co-stimulation, and cytokine signaling during thymic selection of Tregs. In addition, while at Columbia, I focused on determining inflammatory biomarkers for autoimmune disease in response to dietary and microbial antigens.

Alyssa Indart

PhD Student

Kendall Kearns
Staff Scientist

Kendall joined the Roybal Lab at its inception in 2017, and played an integral role in developing the CAR library project with Dan Goodman and Camillia Azimi. In 2020 she left to pursue a PhD in the BMS program at UCSD.

Kendall Kearns

Staff Scientist

Emily Park
Staff Scientist

Emily was one of the first hires in the Roybal lab starting in 2017. She worked as a staff scientist on a range of projects from CAR libraries to synNotch CAR circuits. In 2019 Emily started a PhD program at the University of Washington in the Headley Lab (Fred Hutch).

Emily Park

Staff Scientist

Pavithran Ravindran
Staff Scientist

Pav was recruited to join the Roybal Lab for a six-month period in early 2021. He applied his expertise in synthetic gene circuits and dynamic cell signaling to help develop next generation receptors targeting the tumor environment. Pav left the lab to begin a MD/PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania in Fall 2021.

Pavithran Ravindran

Staff Scientist

Iowis Zhu Ph.D.
MD/PhD Student
Iowis.Zhu@ucsf.edu

MD/PhD Student in Biomedical Sciences - MSTP, B.S. Biochemistry, B.S. Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics – University of Maryland, College Park

My previous work involved characterizing the biophysical properties of a designed DNA binding protein and studying the structures of proteins related to human immunity. I was also a founding member of the UMaryland iGEM team, serving as captain for 2 seasons. My current work involves designing next-generation synthetic receptor circuits and applying them toward advances in immunotherapy.

In my free time, I enjoy attending the SF symphony, exploring the SF MoMA, learning new languages, cooking and baking, and enjoying a glass of wine in Napa Valley!

Selected Publications:

Zhu I, Liu R, Garcia JM, Hyrenius-Wittsten A, Piraner DI, Alavi J, Israni DV, Liu B, Khalil AS, Roybal KT. Modular design of synthetic receptors for programmed gene regulation in cell therapies. Cell. 2022 Apr 14;185(8):1431-1443.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.03.023. PMID: 35427499.

Lu J, Yu Y, Zhu I, Cheng Y, Sun PD. Structural mechanism of serum amyloid A-mediated inflammatory amyloidosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(14):5189-5194.

Liu X, Palaniyandi S, Zhu I, et al. Human cytomegalovirus evades antibody-mediated immunity through endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation of the FcRn receptor. Nature Communications. 2019;10(1):3020.

Iowis Zhu Ph.D.

MD/PhD Student

Interested in joining the Roybal Lab?

The Roybal Lab is always seeking highly motivated graduate students, postdocs, and staff scientists to work on engineering the immune cell therapies of the future. Please email your CV including references and a brief statement of your interest to the email address below.

Potential Projects
  • Engineering next generation T cell therapies for treatment of Glioblastoma.
  • Engineering new Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) with novel signaling capabilities.
  • Engineering cell therapies for autoimmunity: boosting the functional capacity of regulatory T cells and generation of synthetic regulatory T cells.
  • Systematic modulation of tumor microenvironments with engineered immune cells to find the Achilles’ heels of solid tumors.
  • Engineering synthetic immune cell interactions to develop new cellular communication systems to improve cell therapies.

Job Openings

The Roybal lab is looking for Postdocs and Staff Scientist to join our team!   We are starting a number of new and exciting synthetic biology and cell therapy projects that you can be a part of.  Things are moving fast, please get in touch with us by emailing your CV, including references and a brief statement of interest.

Graduate Programs
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