Kole T. Roybal, Ph.D. - Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

University of California, San Francisco

Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center

Investigator - Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

email: Kole.Roybal@ucsf.edu  Administrator - Jenny Le  email: Jenny.Le2@ucsf.edu


Dr. Roybal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is a full member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and an inaugural Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigator. He received a doctorate in Immunology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in 2013. There he studied the fundamental cellular and biochemical mechanisms that regulate T cell activation at the system-scale using quantitative live cell fluorescent imaging in Christoph Wulfing's laboratory. Dr. Roybal then moved to Wendell Lim's lab at the University of California, San Francisco and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellow. There he developed a new class of synthetic receptors called Synthetic Notch receptors that have far-reaching implications for cell therapies for cancer, autoimmunity, and regenerative medicine.

postdoctoral fellows

Daniel B. Goodman, Ph.D. 

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)

About me: 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.



Raymond Liu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow – NIH T32 Training Grant

B.S. Biology – Stanford University

Ph.D. Biology – California Institute of Technology (Laboratory of David C. Chan)

About me: 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:

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.


Axel Hyrenius-Wittsten, Ph.D.

Swedish Society for Medical Research 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)

About me: 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:

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

Hyrenius-Wittsten, A., Sturesson, H., Bidgoli, M., Jonson, T., Ehinger, M., Lilljebjörn, H., Scheding, S. and Andersson, AK. Genomic profiling and directed ex vivo drug analysis of an unclassifiable myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasm progressing into acute myeloid leukemia. Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer. 2016 Nov 55(11):847-54

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

Velasco-Hernandez, T., Hyrenius-Wittsten, A., Rehn, M., Bryder, D., Cammenga, J. HIF-α can act as a tumor suppressor gene in murine acute myeloid leukemia. Blood. 2014 Dec 4;124(24):3597-607

Svensson, G., Hyrenius Wittsten, A., Linse, S., Mani, K. The structural role of N-linked glycans on human glypican-1. Biochemistry. 2011 Nov 1;50(43):9377-87

graduate students


Camillia Azimi

Graduate Student in Biomedical Science

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

About me: My previous work has focused on the molecular causes of immune cell exhaustion and reactivation within cancer and autoimmune environments as well as the biochemical and structural study of cancer testes antigens.  My current research is focused on re-engineering T cell signaling to create novel T cell therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.   

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Casey Burnett

Graduate Student in Biomedical Science (Co-advised with Matthew Spitzer)

B.A. Human Biology - Stanford University 

About me: I previously studied purified hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with a focus on increasing efficacy across haploidentical barriers and investigating HSCT as a potential mechanism for allogeneic tolerance induction. My current work aims to integrate systems and synthetic immunology to understand the impact of engineered immune cells on the global immune landscape.


Iowis Zhu

MD/PhD Student in Biomedical Sciences -  MSTP

B.S. Biochemistry, B.S. Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics – University of Maryland, College Park

About me: 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 novel synthetic receptor circuits and applying them toward advances in immunotherapy.

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Kiavash Garakani, M.S.

Masters Student in Biomedical Imaging

B.S. Molecular and Cell Biology, M.S. Applied Science and Technology — University of California, Berkeley

About me: My previous research involved the use of molecular dynamics simulations to characterize how stem cell mechanotransduction through focal adhesions occurs. My current research is focused on the development of new synthetic constructs with the potential to enhance the safety and efficacy of adoptive T cell therapy.

Selected Publications

Garakani K., Shams G., and Mofrad MRK. "Mechanosensitive Conformation of Vinculin Regulates Its Binding to MAPK1." Biophysical Journal 112.9 (2017): 1885-1893.

staff scientists


Kendall Kearns

Staff Research Assistant I

B.S. Microbiology & Immunology 2016 - University of California, Irvine

email: kendall.kearns@ucsf.edu


Garrett Montgomery, M.S.

Assistant Specialist III

B.S. Biotechnology 2014 - University Tennessee

M.S. Biotechnology 2017 - San Francisco State University

email: garrett.montgomery@ucsf.edu


Emily Park

Staff Research Assistant I

B.A. Integrative Biology 2014 - University of California, Berkeley

email: minhee.park@ucsf.edu

undergraduate researchers

Avni Singhal

Materials Science and Engineering/Bioengineering - University of California, Berkeley

Undergraduate Intern

email: avni.singhal@gmail.com