Matthew L. Cooper, PhD — is focused on improving therapeutic options for patients with relapsed and refractory hematological malignancies by overcoming the limitations of adoptive cell therapy through three approaches. These include: 1) The use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing techniques to enhance CAR-T therapy for the treatment of T cell hematological malignancies, which are associated with poor prognosis and high mortality. 2) The use of pro-lymphoid cytokine analogues to overcome barriers of sub-optimal CAR-T persistence that permit tumor cell escape and, ultimately, disease relapse. 3) Gene editing and small molecule strategies to mitigate cytokine release syndrome, the major toxicity associated with adoptively transferred T cell therapies.

Linda G. Eissenberg, PhD — As Project Manager for the DiPersio Laboratory, Linda Eissenberg participates in the design and development of translational research projects in all areas of study within the research group. She manages collaborations between the DiPersio laboratory group and industry or academics within or outside of Washington University, oversees agreements for transfer of materials or services, organizes presentations for prospective or active donors, participates in preclinical studies that lead to translation into clinical trials, and facilitates correlative studies in ongoing trials.

Miriam Y. Kim, MD — Develops chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to target acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Her research focuses on studying the effects of targeting CD117, a cell surface receptor that is expressed on AML that also plays an important role in hematopoietic stem cell function, in various mouse models. Other efforts include options to augment CAR T cell activity for AML by targeting two antigens simultaneously or by using cytokines to enhance their expansion and persistence. The use of genetically engineered hematopoietic stem cells as an adjunctive therapy to CAR T cells to mitigate the toxicity of this therapy also is being investigated.

Julie O’Neal, PhD — is generating immunotherapies for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a currently incurable malignancy of mature plasma cells. She is designing therapies to target two antigens (CS1 and BCMA) that are highly expressed on most myeloma cells, but whose expression on normal cells is restricted to the hematopoeitic system. Her strategies include using chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) in T cells and in invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT) to target one or both of these antigens. She also is testing bispecific antibodies against CS1 and the T cell antigen, CD3. In collaboration with Dr. Li Ding’s laboratory, she is also involved in studying RNA expression and proteomic approaches to identify novel myeloma immunotherapy targets.

Michael P. Rettig, PhD — focuses on 1) targeting key elements of the hematopoietic niche for optimal stem cell mobilization and leukemia chemosensitization, 2) understanding the genomic alterations in relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after chemotherapy and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHCT), 3) developing novel immunotherapeutics for the treatment of AML before and after alloHCT, and 4) investigating bispecific monoclonal retargeting agents to treat AML. Together with Dr. Li Ding’s lab, he investigates the potential utility of targeting novel AML targets identified by RNA expression and proteomics. Dr. Rettig also develops and leads correlative studies for clinical trials that investigate therapies with immunomodulatory or anti-tumor potential.

Julie K. Ritchey — As Laboratory Supervisor for the DiPersio Laboratory, Julie Ritchey is crucial to the development, implementation, and analysis of a range of studies. These include the design and construction of CAR-T viruses for transduction of immune cells as well in vitro and in vivo studies of CAR-T and bispecific antibody efficacy or GvHD treatments.  She is the primary individual in the lab who manufactures genetically modified cells for patients in the Biological Therapy Core Facility.  She also manages the day-to-day function of the DiPersio laboratory group and its personnel.