Phoenix, Arizona




Michael P. Gustafson, Ph.D., is the scientific director of the Nyberg Human Cellular Therapy Laboratory at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus. Dr. Gustafson and his team are focused on developing and translating cell- and immune-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, autoimmunity and other diseases into clinical trials. Dr. Gustafson's research also encompasses understanding systemic immunity in humans, how cancer alters the immune landscape in humans and how physical activity may be used to improve immune responses to immunotherapy.

Focus areas

  • Cellular immunotherapies. The use of cells as "living drugs" has provided new hope for patients with diseases that have few or no good treatment options. Dr. Gustafson and his team are pursuing novel biomanufacturing methods for immune effector cells, including: dendritic cells and other myeloid cells; adoptive and chimeric antigen receptor T cells; and natural killer cells for early-phase clinical trials.
  • Profiles of systemic immunity in health and disease in humans. The human immune system and disease are often intricately linked. For example, many patients with cancer exhibit severe immune dysfunction as a result of tumor-derived factors, treatment-related factors or both. Dr. Gustafson and his team are investigating how cancer alters the immune system. In addition, they are interested in how other factors, such as age and physical fitness, influence the immune system. Dr. Gustafson and colleagues are exploring the use of exercise to restore or improve immune function in healthy subjects.
  • Biomarker development to support cellular therapies. The development of novel cell therapies requires a good understanding of the attributes of cell therapy products. Dr. Gustafson and his team are focused on identifying and characterizing identity, purity, potency and persistence of biomarkers that are critical to supporting the manufacturing of cell therapy products. Furthermore, he and his team are focused on the discovery of biomarkers that provide information on patient response, both positive and negative, to guide the optimal therapeutic use of cell therapies in a given patient population.

Significance to patient care

The intersection of Dr. Gustafson's interests in cellular therapy, human immunology and biomarker development all contribute to the goal of optimizing biomanufacturing processes to increase the efficacy of cell therapy products used in investigational new drug trials. He and his team also provide quality and regulatory expertise during the translational process of clinical trial development. Finally, Dr. Gustafson and his lab foster critical collaborations with researchers and clinicians to bring novel cellular therapies to patients.

Professional highlights

  • Member, Immuno & Gene Therapy Committee, International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy, 2019-present
  • Chair and scientific reviewer, Various Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program topic areas, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program/Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, 2016-present
  • Champion, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, 2013-present


Primary Appointment

  1. Consultant, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Joint Appointment

  1. Consultant, Department of Immunology

Academic Rank

  1. Associate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology


  1. Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  2. PhD Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Programs, Mayo Graduate School, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  3. BS - Biology North Park College

Mayo Clinic Footer