Immunology Researchers at MUSC

* denotes faculty eligible to be T32 mentors

Stephen Tomlinson, Ph.D. * (Program Director)

Professor & Interim Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Dr. Tomlinson studies the biology of the complement system, with a focus on the role of complement in the pathophysiology of inflammation, as well as how inflammation modulates adaptive immunity. Specific areas of interest include immunopathologic mechanisms involved in graft injury following transplantation such as ischemia reperfusion injury, graft immunogenicity and alloresponsiveness. He also has an active neuroimmunology program with a focus on how complement and other components of the innate immune system modulate injury and neurodegeneration and regeneration in stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological pathologies. Dr. Tomlinson also has developed a considerable toolbox of complement inhibitors and related reagents that have been utilized to investigate complement-dependent pathogenesis in clinically relevant model systems. Dr. Tomlinson’s research has been the foundation for 25 invention disclosures and 132 patent applications in more than 50 countries, with 53 patents issued. Dr. Tomlinson was the 2014 MUSC Innovator of the Year, and was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2015. Dr. Tomlinson has been involved in numerous commercial successes through licensing of drug candidates to the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently involved in a new commercialization effort after he co-founded AdMIRx, a company developing targeted complement inhibitors.

  • Collaborations: Gilkeson, Rohrer, Atkinson, Yu


Carl Atkinson, Ph.D. * (Program Co-Director)

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, & Director, Lee Patterson Allen Transplant Immunobiology Laboratory

Dr. Atkinson is primarily interested in the interplay of the complement system with adaptive immunity in the pathophysiology of inflammation and development of chronic diseases. His major interests include organ transplantation and respiratory diseases. With regard to respiratory disease, an emphasis is on the impact of cigarette smoke exposure on modification of the immune response and disease development in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic rhinosinusitis. With regard to organ transplantation, a focus is on mechanisms responsible for inflammatory changes that occur in donor organs following brain death, and how this immune priming alters post-transplant inflammation and subsequently modulates alloimmunity and acute and chronic rejection. In pursuit of these questions Dr. Atkinson’s laboratory uses a variety of in-vitro, and small and large animal in-vivo models.

Together with the Tomlinson laboratory, his laboratory has established several difficult murine models of transplantation, including lung, liver and vascularized composite allograft (heterotopic and orthotopic) transplantation. Additionally, his laboratory utilizes porcine models of kidney donor organ injury and kidney transplantation.

In 2014, Dr. Atkinson co-founded ToleRaM Nanotech, LLC, a company based on technology developed in his laboratory at MUSC for the targeted delivery of immunosuppression therapeutics to organ transplant recipients. ToleRaM Nanotech, LLC has won a number of prestigious awards and recognition, including the 2014 BioProcess International “Emerging Company” Award, keynote abstract at the Techconnect World and National Innovation Summit, acceptance into the South Carolina Launch business development network, and recently NIH STTR Phase I grant. Dr. Atkinson collaborates closely with local biotechnology companies has received 3 SBIR grants and has recently been awarded a fast track SBIR phase I/II grant to investigate novel small molecule in a porcine kidney transplant model.

Dr. Atkinson has filed 11 invention disclosures, with 35 US and international patent applications, 5of which have been issued.

  • Collaborations: Co-authorship with Gilkeson, Rohrer, Tomlinson, Yu; Grant applications with  Gilkeson, Guo, Kirkwood, Rohrer, Tomlinson, Yu.


Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D. *

Professor & Dean of College of Medicine

Dr. Dubois maintains an active research program in 2 areas.

One focus is the study of how chronic inflammation contributes to colorectal cancer initiation, progression and metastasis. He is investigating how the chemokine receptor, CXCR2, modulates infiltration of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) to inflamed colonic mucosa and colitis-associated tumors and how CXCR2-expressing MDSCs contribute to chronic inflammation and tumor growth in the colon via modulation of Th17 cells and colonic CD8+ T cell cytotoxic activity. He also is investigating how a nuclear receptor, PPARd, connects chronic inflammation and tumorigenesis.

A second focus is to understand how PGE2 promotes colorectal cancer formation, progression and metastasis, and how PGE2 promotes tumor growth and progression by induction of tumor epithelial cell proliferation, survival and migration/invasion.

Dr. Dubois has an issued patent on a method to identify and prevent cellular genes needed for viral growth and cellular genes that function as tumor suppressors.

Before joining MUSC, he was on the board of the Arizona Bioindustry Association and Executive Director of the Arizona Biodesign Institute. Dr. Dubois is still in the process of setting up his laboratory at MUSC and, as such, has not yet established MUSC collaborations.


Gary Gilkeson, M.D. *

Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology & Immunology, & Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs & Faculty Development, College of Medicine

Dr. Gilkeson’s research interests focus on the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus, SLE), with special emphasis on factors impacting ethnic disparities in outcomes of lupus nephritis. His studies span from basic immunology, inflammation and genetics to population-based studies. He established the SLEIGH (SLE in Gullah Health) study to identify genetic and environmental factors that result in this disparity. He also studies how oxidative stress affects lupus patients and animal models of lupus, the role of the complement system in lupus, and the role of estrogen receptors and genetic factors involved in immunoglobulin class switch recombination.

Dr. Gilkeson has been involved in the development of several new therapies for human immune-mediated diseases. He has active collaborations with 3 biotech/pharma companies related to development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic products. He was directly involved in the startup company Taligen Therapeutics (along with Drs. Tomlinson and Rohrer and external advisor Dr. Holers) that was ultimately acquired by Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $111 million. He has been involved in multiple clinical trials. His research has been the foundation for 8 invention disclosures and 6 patent applications in more than 10 countries, with 6 patents issued. Several patents are licensed.

  • Collaborations: Co-authorship with Atkinson, Huang, Li, Rohrer, Tomlinson, Tsao; Grant applications with Atkinson, Li, Liu, Paulos, Rohrer, Tomlinson, Tsao, Wu; Additional collaborations with Yu.


Beichu Guo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Research in the Guo laboratory is focused on the role of innate immune system, especially inflammasomes, in autoimmune diseases and cancer. Recently, Dr. Guo has been awarded an American Cancer Society (ACS) Research Scholar Grant for his research on senescence-associated inflammation and cancer progression.


Azizul Haque, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Dr. Haque's laboratory conducts research in the areas of inflammation, immunity, and cancer. In cancer immunology, we are investigating the mechanisms by which malignant tumors such as lymphoma, prostate and melanoma evade immune recognition via MHC class I and II pathways. Lymphoid malignancies such as B-cell lymphomas arise at distinct stages of cellular development and maturation, potentially influencing immune recognition and the functional interaction of these cells with other components of the immune system. Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a highly malignant B-cell tumor characterized by chromosomal translocation that constitutively activates the c-myc oncogene. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transforms primary B-cells in vitro, and results in the establishment of lymphoblastoid cell lines (B-LCL). While B-LCL efficiently process and present antigens to T cells in the context of both MHC class I and class II molecules, BL cells have been shown to be deficient in their ability to process and present antigens by both pathways, and the mechanisms remain unknown. Studies in Dr. Haque's laboratory are probing the factors responsible for defective antigen processing and immune recognition in the context of MHC class II molecules. While MHC class I-restricted CD8+ T cells are effector cells in anti-tumor immune responses, MHC class II-restricted CD4+ T cells can also destroy tumors by direct killing. CD4+ T cells can also play critical roles in initiating, regulating, and maintaining anti-tumor immune responses. Because most B-cell tumors express MHC class II molecules, these tumors can be potential target for CD4+ T cells. Elucidating the mechanisms of loss of immune recognition in the context of MHC class II molecules will contribute to the development of effective immunotherapeutics against B-cell lymphomas.

Dr. Haque’s laboratory is also focused on antigen presentation, immune regulation and inflammatory events in multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and spinal cord injury (SCI). In collaboration with Dr. Banik (Dept. of Neurosurgery MUSC), we have found that the immune responses and the inflammatory factors may be directed against calpain (calcium activated neutral protease) which is a target in many autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. Ongoing studies in the laboratory are actively investigating the implications of distinct calpain isoforms in the immunopathogenesis of MS, PD and AD. Dr. Haque's laboratory is also actively investigating the role of enolase and calpain isoforms in spinal cord injury (SCI), autoimmunity and neurodegeneration.

We have recently shown that elevation of enolase is deleterious as it promotes extracellular degradation and production of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and metabolic factors, resulting in glial activation and neuronal death. Thus, our current focus is to investigate the implications of enolase and calpain activities in cancer, inflammation, and neurodegeneration for prognostic and therapeutic potential.

  • Collaborations: Co-authorship with Banik, Stuart, Jiang, Reddy, Voelkel-Johnson, Tomlinson, Kau, Walker; Grant applications with Banik, Walker, Kau, Varma, Rowland, Jiang; Additional collaborations with Jiang, Hamlett, Krieg, Mehrotra, Vasu


Philip H. Howe, Ph.D. *

Professor & Chair, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Dr. Howe is investigating signaling pathways and immune modulation mediated by transforming growth factor (TGFβ1) and Wnt, and cross-talk in models of differentiation and cancer. A current focus is TGFβ1 modulation of B cell development and apoptosis, and how Dab2 serves as a molecular switch to control whether cells undergo apoptosis or autophagy in response to TGFβ. He is investigating how this switch may underlie chemosensitivity and acquired-resistance during tumorigenesis. A further line of investigation is how TGFβ regulation of hnRNP E1 phosphorylation not only regulates translational silencing of select mRNAs involved in EMT/metastasis but also of lncRNAs that may also contribute to tumor progression.

  • Collaborations: Kirkwood, Wu, Yu.


Yan Huang, M.D., Ph.D. *

Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Medical Genetics

Dr. Huang’s research interest is the effect of diabetes-associated factors such as dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia on toll-like receptor (TLR) 4-mediated innate immune responses. His laboratory has utilized several animal models for human diabetes and atherosclerosis. Dr. Huang’s laboratory also is investigating the molecular and signaling mechanisms involved in upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 6 by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), high glucose and high saturated fatty acids, and is investigating LPS-triggered TLR4 inflammatory signaling in macrophages. Dr. Huang has 3 invention disclosures in the area of atherosclerosis and diabetes treatment.

  • Collaborations: Co-authorship with Gilkeson, Kirkwood, Rohrer; Grant applications with Kirkwood, Rohrer.


Wei Jiang, M.D. *

Assistant Professor, Departments of Microbiology & Immunology, Medicine/Division of Infectious Disease

Dr. Jiang has a broad background in infectious diseases with specific clinical and research training and expertise in HIV immunopathogenesis and data analysis. A major focus of her research is B cell perturbation in HIV disease. She is currently the PI of one NIH R01 (AI1288864) titled “On the pathogenic role of anti-CD4 antibody in poor CD4+ T cell recovery after antiretroviral therapy in HIV disease”. The objective of this grant is to study the role of qualitative (microbiome) and quantitative (level of 16S rDNA or LPS) of plasma microbial products in HIV pathogenesis and substance abuse in HIV pathogenesis. Dr. Jiang's publications in the fields of B cell biology, Toll-like receptors and B cell pathogenesis in HIV disease demonstrate her success and productivity.


Carsten Krieg, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Departments of Microbiology & Immunology, Dermatology

In the era of genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches, new therapeutic interventions have greatly broadened the options for patients with cancer and immune-related diseases. Since 2011, 68 new drugs have been approved for 22 indications, including agents that have revolutionized cancer therapy, offering nearly too many options to too few patients. The challenge to clinicians and scientists alike is to understand the mechanism(s) to find the optimal treatment regimens. By elucidating the immune mechanisms of the most promising treatments the Krieg Lab wants to optimize the therapeutic effect. Dr. Krieg is interested in the discovery of immune signatures during inflammatory processes by integrating high dimensional single-cell technologies with machine-learning computational tools. These new signatures will be able:

  • To define novel correlates of clinical outcomes for a variety of diseases including cancer and autoimmunity
  • Identify new interventional pathways
  • To provide tools for scientific and clinical analysis.

Dr. Krieg utilizes unique expertise from multiple techniques and fields, such as single-cell mass spectrometry (a.k.a., mass cytometry or Cytometry by Time-Of-Flight, CyTOF), high parameter sorter and single cell sequencing techniques in conjunction with bioinformatic analysis tools to look at clinical samples, and preclinical mouse models.

  • Collaborations: Ogretmen, Mehrotra, Yu, Atkinson, Tomlinson, Rubinstein, Wrangle, Ostrowski


Shikar Mehrotra, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Departments of Surgery, Microbiology, & Immunology

T cell death, cell metabolism, melanoma immunotherapy, autoimmune vitiligo


Eric Meissner, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine/Division of Infectious Disease, Microbiology & Immunology

The Meissner laboratory studies the interface between the host immune system and chronic viral infections, with a specific interest in HBV, HCV, and HIV. Specifically, the laboratory is investigating the mechanisms by which type-III interferon signaling may impart control over HBV replication, and modulating type-III interferon signaling may have therapeutic potential. Type-III interferons impart mucosal defense against pathogens in part through restricted cell-type specific expression of the type-III interferon receptor IFNLR1, whose regulation is a specific focus of the lab. The lab uses stem cell-derived hepatocytes, cell lines, and clinical samples as tools of investigation. The motivation to pursue translational research derives from observations in the clinic, and the overall intent of the research is to develop novel approaches for treatment.

  • Collaborations: Stephen Duncan, Paula Traktman, Lauren Ball, Betty Tsao


Satish N. Nadig, M.D., Ph.D.*

PK Baliga, MD Endowed Chair in Solid Organ Transplantation;  Associate Professor, Departments of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Microbiology, & Immunology

Satish N. Nadig, MD PhD holds the P.K. Baliga, MD Endowed Chair in Solid Organ Transplantation and is an adult and pediatric multi-organ transplant surgeon and Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Microbiology/Immunonology, and Pediatrics-Critical Care. He currently serves as the Transplant Division Director for Academic Affairs and Associate Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Surgery. Dr. Nadig co-founded and co-directs the NIH-funded Lee Patterson Allen Transplant Immunobiology Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Dr. Nadig holds a Doctor of Philosophy in immunology from Oxford and has served as a national and international visiting professor. He has been identified as a “Key Opinion leader” in the Transplantation Society as well as a “Rising Star” in the American Society of Transplant Surgeon. Dr. Nadig wass the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of ToleRaM Nanotech, LLC and is now the Chief Medical Advisor to Pandorum Technologies, Pvt. Ltd. His research interests are focused on innovations in transplantation tolerance including cellular therapy, biotechnology, and transplant immunology. Dr. Nadig was named as one of Charleston, South Carolina’s Forty under 40 in 2015, is featured in a 2016 TEDx Talk on organ donation, and has a recently published textbook entitled Technological Advances in Organ Transplantation.

His further expertise includes utilization of small and large animal studies relating to regulatory T cell biology, applications of bioengineering and nanotechnology as applied to transplantation, transplant immunology, and ischemia reperfusion injury. He holds NIH funding to investigate immunometabolism and mitochondrial health in relation to organ preservation and antigen presentation in the setting of transplantation. He maintains strong ties with industry and start-ups biotechnologies. Dr. Nadig has filed over 7 patents and has a patent issued on his novel nanotechnology. 

  • Collaborations: Published with Atkinson, Tomlinson, Mehrotra


Janardan Pandey, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Dr. Pandey has broad experience in the genetics and immunology of malignant diseases. Immunoglobulin heavy and light chain genes are among the genes that are differentially expressed in African American and European-American men with prostate cancer. Immunoglobulin heavy chain GM (γ marker) alleles/allotypes—the primary focus of his investigations—are one of the most powerful tools for genetic characterization of human populations. To our knowledge, Dr. Pandey’s lab is the only lab in the U.S. working on these genes, and the first to show that GM and Fcγ receptor genes play a significant role in immunity to tumor-associated antigens in prostate cancer.


Baerbel Rohrer, Ph.D. *

Professor & Endowed Chair, Department of Ophthalmology

Dr. Rohrer is studying the role of innate immune effector mechanisms and angiogenesis in age-related macular degeneration, and mechanisms of degeneration and neuroprotection in retinitis pigmentosa. Over the past 10 years, the number of genes associated with photoreceptor dystrophies has almost doubled from ~100 to almost 200 genes. Two key clusters include genes involved in complement activation/neuroinflammation and in energy metabolism, areas of study in Dr. Rohrer’s laboratory. She is utilizing cytotoxicity models of retinal degeneration and different in vivo models to investigate the roles of complement-mediated inflammatory mechanisms, immune changes and the role of antibodies associated with pathogenesis, oxidative stress and angiogenesis (and their interplay) in macular degeneration.

Dr. Rohrer also is a leading innovator at MUSC. She has filed 18 invention disclosures, 23 US and 81 international patent applications, and has 5 US and 51 international patents issued. Her IP contributed to the foundation of 3 startup companies, one of which she co-founded. Additional patents are licensed.

She is on the scientific advisory boards of 2 companies and was previously a consultant for Genentech. Dr. Rohrer also was directly involved with Drs. Tomlinson and Gilkeson and external advisor, Dr. Holers, in the formation of Taligen Therapeutics, which was subsequently acquired by a pharmaceutical company. She has received SBIR funding, was MUSC Innovator of the Year Award in 2013 and elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2014.

  • Collaborations: Co-authorship with Atkinson, Gilkeson, Huang, Li, Paulos, Tomlinson; Grant applications with Atkinson, Gilkeson, Huang, Tomlinson; Additional collaborations with Liu.


Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D.*

Assistant Professor, Departments of Surgery, Microbiology, & Immunology

The Rubinstein Laboratory is focused on developing novel immune-based therapies for the treatment of cancer. There are three broad research focuses:

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors: Administration of immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated unprecedented efficacy in the treatment of select cancers. Immune checkpoint inhibitors act by removing tumor inhibitory signals that would otherwise prevent immune cells from killing tumor cells. While some patients can achieve long-term tumor regression, a major hurdle in the field is understanding why some cancers, and why some patients, do not respond to checkpoint therapy. The Rubinstein laboratory is focused on:
    • Developing methods to improve checkpoint therapy
    • Identifying biomarkers to predict which patients will respond, and
    • Uncovering mechanisms by which patients achieve clinical responses after checkpoint therapy.
  • Adoptive cellular therapy: The transfer of tumor-killing immune cells has shown great promise in certain cancers refractory to other therapies. The Rubinstein laboratory is developing novel techniques for improving these adoptive cell therapy strategies. For example, many clinical strategies use chemotherapy or radiation prior to adoptive cell therapy with the goal of making room for the donor cells. The Rubinstein laboratory is developing methodology to avoid the need for these harsh and toxic therapies while retaining the ability to mediate durable tumor regression. The development of these adoptive cellular therapy strategies is being done in collaboration with the Center for Cellular Therapy.
  • Understanding tumor-induced immune suppression: One problem in applying immune-based approaches for the treatment of cancer is that the tumor cells often suppress immune responses. Thus, inducing an effective immune response may require either reversing suppression or making immune cells resistant to suppression. To study these suppressive pathways, the Rubinstein laboratory is assaying tumor biopsies from patients.

Understanding these immune suppressive pathways will facilitate the development of new therapeutic strategies.


Betty Tsao, Ph.D. *

Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology & Immunology

Dr. Tsao joined MUSC in December 2015 from UCLA. Her work focuses on identification of genetic risk factors for disease manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic, debilitating autoimmune disease that mainly affects women with features of autoantibody production, immune complex deposition and multiple target organ damage. Using collected DNA samples and linked clinical and demographic information from thousands of SLE patients and controls, she has contributed to the identification of less than 80 loci predisposing to SLE. She is now investigating how the underlying risk variants perturb the immune system resulting in systemic autoimmunity and tissue injury. Dr. Tsao has a strong record of faculty development and mentorship. Dr. Tsao has 1 patent, is collaborating with the biotechnology company Amgen on clinical investigations on lupus through a company funded grant, and has been engaged in clinical trials.

  • Collaborations: Co-authorship with Gilkeson; Grant application in process with Gilkeson (she has recently joined MUSC).


Chenthamarakshan Vasu, Ph.D.*

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

A major research focus of Dr. Vasu’s laboratory is understanding the gut mucosa-microbiota-dietary factor interactions and the impact on various inflammatory and autoimmune clinical conditions including type 1 diabetes (T1D), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and colitis. A series of gene knockout, specific pathogen free (SPF) and germ free (GF) mice are being used to investigate these aspects. Dr. Vasu’s lab is currently defining the requirement of TLRs and other innate immune receptors in gut inflammation and autoimmunity and determining the requirement of interaction with microbiota for, and the role of TLR activation in, juvenile onset of gut inflammation and permeability, and autoimmunity using relevant GF and knockout lupus and T1D -prone mouse models, and samples from lupus and T1D patients and relatives. Dr. Vasu’s lab found that gut commensal bacteria can promote autoimmunity in genetically susceptible mouse model when systemic compartment, due to leaky-gut, is exposed to it. Hence the impact of gut colonization by various commensal bacteria at different stages of autoimmune progression is being studied in SPF and GF mouse models under normal and leaky-gut conditions. Further, the impact of consumption of variety complex dietary polysaccharides on natural and induced leaky-gut of T1D and lupus-prone models are being studied.

Dr. Vasu's lab also works various other projects.  1) Understanding the mechanisms of co-stimulation and co-inhibition in immune tolerance. Co-stimulatory and co-repressor pathways are considered essential for T cell activation, differentiation, and regulation of immune response. Primary focus of this project is on understanding the role of signaling through CD28, CTLA-4, PD-1 and BTLA in maintaining peripheral tolerance, and developing effective targeted immunotherapy approaches for autoimmunity, transplant rejection, and tumors. 2) Development engineered dendritic and mesenchymal stem cell based tolerogenic and regenerative therapies for autoimmune diseases such as T1D and lupus. 3) Understanding the role of vesicle trafficking pathways and novel regulators of these pathways in inflammation, neurodegeneration, tumorigenesis, and normal cellular processes.  

  • Collaborations: Atkinson, Guo, Gilkeson, Kamen, Ramos, Cunningham, Bowlby, Bhat, Sambamurti, Wang, Tsao, Howe, Palanisamy 


Christina Voelkel-Johnson, Ph.D.*

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Dr. Voelkel-Johnson’s laboratory is pursuing two major focus areas related to cell death and cancer therapy; sphingolipids in cancer and oxidative stress. The goal of their research is to identify how changes in sphingolipid composition impact cancer associated inflammation and how modulation of redox status can influence persistence of adaptively transferred therapeutic T cells.


John Wrangle, M.D., MPH

Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine/Division of Hematology & Oncology, Microbiology & Immunology

Dr. Wrangle’s research interests focus on the development of novel therapeutic strategies and biomarkers for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Dr. Wrangle’s research team hypothesizes that NSCLC may be classified by immune-phenotypes based on expression patterns of immune-related genes and pathways known to be important mechanisms of immune escape.


XueZhong Yu, MD, MS & MBA *

Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology; Associate Direction in Basic Sciences,  Hollings Cancer Center; Distinguished Endowed Chair, SmartState Cancer Stem Cell Biology Program

The research scope in Dr. Yu’s Lab is in tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy.  Their research focuses on the biology of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). The ultimate goal of these studies is to prevent or treat GVHD while preserving GVL effect, which could greatly enhance the therapeutic potential of HCT.  Aligning with HCT for hematopoietic malignances, they also study how to improve adoptive T-cell therapy for solid tumors. 

The major lines of work in Dr. Yu’s laboratory include:

  • T-cell differentiation and GVHD development
  • Biology of regulatory T cells and their potential application in the control of GVHD
  • Gut microbiota in intestine homeostasis and mucosal immunity 


Xian Zhang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine/Division of Rheumatology & Immunology

Regulating expression of inflammatory mediators by transcription factors, autoimmune disease, lymphocyte development, and innate inflammatory response in traumatic brain injury