Arika Feils

Growing up in Minnesota and volunteering at Mayo Clinic, Arika was always fascinated by the world of medicine. After joining Dr. Paul Sondel’s lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she quickly realized the power of research in medicine and its ability to expand her impact far beyond what she had ever dreamed. 

Feils earned her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2019 from UW-Madison. For the past seven years, first as an undergraduate and now as a Research Specialist, Arika has grown as a scientist and cancer immunologist from her diverse research experiences as part of the Sondel lab team. Her main project centered around retrospective genotyping of patient samples from clinical trials across several cancers, including neuroblastoma. The aim is to investigate whether immunogenotypes can serve as potential biomarkers to inform clinical decisions and help physicians create a more personalized, evidence-based approach to cancer treatment. Work from this project led to Arika’s first first-author publication in Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy.

Pursuing a PhD at St. Jude felt like the perfect fit for Arika. Her passion for pediatric cancer research has always been driven by the patients. “I never want to be afraid of challenging the standard of care because the children and their families deserve the highest quality of care possible,” she emphasizes. As Feils transitions into St. Jude’s PhD program, she is excited to build upon her strong immunology background and explore the area of cellular therapies for pediatric cancer.

Feils AS, Erbe AK, Birstler J, Kim K, Hoch U, Currie S, Nguyen T, Yu D, Siefker-Radtke AO, Tolaney S, Diab A, Sondel PM. (2023) Associations between KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes and clinical outcome for patients with advanced solid tumors receiving BEMPEG plus nivolumab combination therapy in the PIVOT-02 trial. Cancer Immunol Immunother. DOI: 10.1007/s00262-023-03383-w

Aiken TJ, Erbe AK, Zebertavage L, Komjathy D, Feils AS, Rodriguez M, Stuckwisch A, Gillies SD, Morris ZS, Birstler J, Rakhmilevich AL, Sondel PM. (2022) Mechanism of effective combination radio-immunotherapy against 9464D-GD2, an immunologically cold murine neuroblastoma. J Immunother Cancer. DOI: 10.1136/jitc-2022-004834

Hometown: Plainview, MN