Let’s say that you get infected by a virus — the flu, for example. Your immune system mounts a response, not only killing it but also remembering it, so that you will be protected against that particular virus for your whole life. We’re trying to do the same thing for cancer. With adoptive T-cell therapy, the goal is to take T cells (a type of immune cell) from your body and prime them to target cancer. We do this by enhancing a weapon that T cells already have: receptors that recognize cancer cells. After growing large quantities of these modified T cells in the lab, we then put them back in your body so they can seek and destroy tumors.
The patients I treat are my biggest source of inspiration. Watching them go through taxing treatments like bone marrow transplants motivates me to keep refining adoptive T-cell therapy so it’s a viable option for more people. Tackling the related scientific challenges also keeps me going, such as choosing which T cells (there are many different kinds) will be most effective against a particular type of cancer and figuring out how to convince a T cell to infiltrate a tumor’s hostile environment. Cancer is complex, but through advances in immunotherapy, we’ve demonstrated that certain kinds are beatable. Now, we’re working to broaden that effect.
Area of clinical practice
Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Cellular Immunotherapy
I am an attending physician on Fred Hutch’s Autologous and Allogenic Transplant Service who specializes in treating patients with blood cancers. I consult with people who are considering stem cell transplants, and I also provide care for patients receiving T-cell infusions in immunotherapy trials.
My research is focused on developing novel ways of teaching the immune system to target a variety of life-threatening viral infections and cancers, from HIV to lung cancer to Merkel cell carcinoma. My lab has made a number of important discoveries, such as using a “bar code” technology to track T cells after they have been transferred into patients, ultimately helping us figure out which T cells are best suited for eliminating tumors. With extensive experience in designing and leading immunotherapy trials, I have also successfully sponsored multiple investigational new drug applications (INDs), the first step in the Food and Drug Administration’s process for approving new drug therapies.
University of Lausanne Medical School, Switzerland
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Internal Medicine; Hospital Neuchatelois Pourtales, Internal Medicine
University of Washington, Medical Oncology; Fred Hutch, Postdoctoral Research; Laboratoire d'Immunopathologie du SIDA, Pre-doctoral Research
Laboratoire d'Immunopathologie du SIDA, Internship
At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.