Mark P. Rubinstein, Ph.D.


Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D.Dr. Mark P. Rubinstein, and his laboratory, are 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 1) developing methods to improve checkpoint therapy, 2) identifying biomarkers to predict which patients will respond, and 3) 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.