Dr. Leonid Metelitsa’s research focuses on understanding the role of Vα24-invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells in tumor immunity and translating this knowledge into NKT cell-based cancer immunotherapies. His group was the first to demonstrate that NKT cells localize to primary tumors in human patients and that presence of these cells at the tumor site is associated with favorable outcomes in the clinic (Metelitsa et al., JEM, 2004).
Research Assistant Professors
Amy Courtney's main focus in the lab is to examine the impact of natural killer T cells (NKTs) on the neuroblastoma microenvironment. In particular, she is interested in the cross-talk between NKTs and immunosuppressive tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), which have been shown to correlate with both metastatic disease and poor outcome in neuroblastoma patients. Her work has determined that human NKTs directly target TAMs in both a contact-dependent and -independent manner.
Dr. Thorsten Demberg's interest focuses on innate and adaptive immune responses, memory formation and immune escape in viral/bacterial infections and cancer. He has strong knowledge in immunology, innate, B- and T-cell responses, vaccine and assay development, as well as in biotechnology.
His research goal is to foster and advance our understanding of fundamental processes of the immune system and responses in cancer. He anticipates that his deep knowledge and creativity will aid the development of novel NKT cell treatments for cancer and possibly for other diseases.
Dr. Xin Xu is a formally-trained microbiologist with extensive experience in translational research. His postdoctoral research focused on development of an innovative salmonella-based cancer vaccine platform that is currently being submitted as the subject of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the goal of clinical evaluation.