Medical University of Luebeck, MD 2002
Cornell University, PhD 2008
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Postdoctoral training, 2008-2012
The main goal of our laboratory is to explore the fast-developing and highly interdisciplinary field of immunobioengineering. Using next-generation immunomodulatory synthetic materials, we are developing new approaches to therapeutically boost the body's natural ability to fight cancer. Our primary research focus is the design of stimulatory biomaterial devices, drug delivery systems and bioactive substances to enhance adoptive immunotherapy for cancer.
These tools offer a powerful complement to traditional genetic engineering strategies for enhancing the function of tumor-reactive immune cells, and might ultimately allow for widespread application of adoptive immunotherapy in the clinic.
The main area of focus in our laboratory is the creation of therapeutic scaffolds. The scaffolds are made of a porous polymer that, sponge-like, soaks up select immune cells along with a support staff of molecules that help them multiply and activate. Once prepared, a scaffold can be surgically implanted where a tumor was just removed or placed directly on a tumor that cannot be safely excised by surgeons. The scaffold acts as a reservoir, releasing anti-cancer immune cells as it slowly breaks down, much like dissolvable stitches. Already at their job site, those immune cells can immediately begin eliminating residual cancer cells that the surgeon couldn’t remove. This technology could provide clinicians with an appropriate tool to easily add immune cell therapy to a standard first-line treatment for patients undergoing cancer surgery.