The biomedical research interests of Kevin D. Pavelko, Ph.D., center on cellular immune responses to infection and cancer. In particular, Dr. Pavelko is interested in understanding how virus vaccine vectors can be used to elicit cytotoxic T cell responses as immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer.
In addition to his independent contributions to the research community, Dr. Pavelko is currently a research scientist in the Immune Monitoring Core at Mayo Clinic. The core provides access to state-of-the-art technologies and strives to further promote an understanding of the human immune system and how it can be used for the treatment and prevention of disease.
- Immunotherapy for cancer. The generation of cytotoxic T cell responses for the treatment of cancer has revolutionized how therapies are designed to treat this disease. Dr. Pavelko has successfully developed several novel vaccine approaches for treating cancer using models of melanoma, breast cancer and glioblastoma multiforme.
- Engineering virus vectors as immunotherapy. Historically, viruses have been shown to elicit strong cytotoxic T cell responses that are critical for pathogen clearance. Dr. Pavelko has developed several re-engineered viruses that redirect this cytotoxic T cell response toward cancers. These novel approaches to re-engineering viruses have led to the discovery of unique virus vectors with properties that increase immune responses, promote direct tumor killing and increase safety.
- Analyzing the human immune system using mass cytometry. Mass cytometry by time-of-flight (Cytof) is a cutting-edge technology that allows high-parameter analysis of immune cells. This technology is being used to identify novel immune subsets in both normal tissues and in the context of diseases, including cancer. Discoveries using this technology will be important for understanding how new generation immune modulators can be further improved for the treatment of human disease.
Significance to patient care
The discovery that the immune system can control and eliminate cancer has revolutionized approaches to treating this disease. Although this is now widely recognized, increased understanding of how these responses are generated is necessary to identify novel therapeutics and approaches that can be readily used to treat cancer. The development and study of novel vaccine vectors is critical for understanding the best approaches to designing therapies that provide effective, safe and long-lasting protection from cancer and its recurrences.