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CAR T-Cell Therapy Experts and Information for Media

CAR T-cell therapy has generated excitement throughout the medical community as a treatment for many types of cancer since the early 2000s. CAR stands for chimeric antigen receptor. CARs are designed to target a specific molecule present on the surface of a cancer cell. In CAR T-cell therapy, clinicians first remove T cells from a person’s blood. The immune cells are then engineered in a lab so that each T cell has a CAR on its surface, making it into a CAR T cell.

Once the transformed CAR T cells infuse into the patient, the cells look for their specific target. When they find the intended target, the engineered immune cells bind to the cancer cell and kill it. For patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in particular, CAR T-cell therapy has demonstrated success, helping many patients achieve remission, sometimes for the first time since they began treatment. While CAR T-cell therapy has broadened the range of treatment options for hematologic malignancies, its successful application for solid tumors has been challenging.

CAR T-Cell Therapy Experts

  • Stephen Gottschalk, MD

    Stephen Gottschalk, MD, St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy chair, focuses his research on cancer immunotherapy, cell therapy and stem cell transplantation. He leads a team of clinical and scientific researchers conducting clinical studies with highly specific T cells for patients with blood cancers and severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), as well as brain and other solid tumors. The Gottschalk laboratory focuses on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific T cells for treating EBV-associated cancers and using genetically modified T cells for cancer immunotherapy. He can also speak on the successful cure, pioneered at St. Jude, of X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID), also known as Bubble Boy Disease.

  • Giedre Krenciute, PhD

    Giedre Krenciute, PhD, St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy is a leading investigator in the field of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.  Her research focuses on understanding T-cell regulation to improve immunotherapeutic approaches for patient populations. Krenciute’s recent work has focused on developing and characterizing CARs specific to brain tumors, and she has made several key contributions to improving the understanding of CAR T cell function. By re-educating the immune system, this work may help improve tumor detection along with the persistence, efficacy and safety of immune effector cells to optimize immunotherapy for patients. 

  • Paulina Velasquez, MD

    Paulina Velasquez, MD, St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, has made significant contributions to the field of immunotherapy, developing novel T-cell therapy platforms for pediatric hematological malignancies. Her team is pursuing projects that address antigen discovery, tumor immune evasion, persistence and efficacy of CAR T cells and cell-cell interaction within the tumor microenvironment.