Jose (J.C.) C. Villasboas Bisneto, M.D., is a physician-scientist specializing in the treatment of lymphomas, stem cell transplantation and adoptive cell therapy. His laboratory studies the interactions between the patients' immune systems and cancer cells. Using advanced single-cell and imaging technology, his research seeks to understand why many times the immune system fails to control (and sometimes actually helps) cancer growth. Using this knowledge and aided by artificial intelligence systems, his team aims to identify and test new ways to promote effective anti-cancer immunity for patients with lymphoma.
- Identifying factors that promote effective anti-lymphoma immunity. Dr. Villasboas is studying patients who develop lymphoma after solid organ or stem cell transplantation, a condition known as post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). In contrast to other lymphomas, PTLD can often be controlled by the patient's own immune system. By comparing these two groups, he seeks to understand the key immune factors that modulate lymphoma growth.
- Cancer Immunome Project. One of the greatest challenges researchers face when designing immunological strategies to treat cancer is the lack of a detailed immune atlas in these patients. Using cutting-edge single-cell and spatial-analysis technology, Dr. Villasboas is mapping and characterizing the immune cells found in the blood and inside the tumors of cancer patients.
- Novel combination immunotherapies for non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs). Aggressive NHLs are cancers that often fail to be cured by standard chemotherapy. Newer generation immunotherapy agents, such as checkpoint inhibitors, have shown little effect in controlling the disease. This suggests that the immune failure seen in lymphoma patients is more complex than that seen in other cancer patients. To overcome this, Dr. Villasboas is testing novel combinations of immunotherapy agents in patients with B-cell NHLs in clinical trials.
- Artificial intelligence-aided study of the lymphoma immune ecosystem. Lymphomas are cancers of the immune system with many subgroups and a wide variation in biological behavior. Differentiating lymphoma cells from normal immune cell is often a laborious and involved process requiring unique expertise. Dr. Villasboas is using machine learning systems to create artificial intelligence models to speed up and increase the accuracy of the diagnosis for these patients. In addition, these models will be used to identify factors that predict treatment outcomes and potentially match patients to the most appropriate therapy.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Villasboas' overarching research goal is to facilitate the identification and treatment of lymphoma patients, extending the hope of cure to all patients with this disease. His work is focused on identifying and testing strategies to use patients' own immune systems to fight cancer cells. These immune-based treatments have revolutionized cancer care and have the potential to enhance, or even replace, traditional chemotherapy. Finding the best approach for using different immunotherapy agents requires a deeper understanding of the immune function in patients with cancer. His research seeks to bridge these gaps in knowledge in order to facilitate the selection of the most effective and least toxic treatments.
- Recipient, Career Development Award, Lymphoma Research Foundation, 2017-2020
- Chief fellow, Hematology/Oncology Fellowship (Minnesota), Mayo Clinic, 2015-2016
- Recipient, Annual Meeting Abstract Achievement Award, American Society of Hematology, 2015
- Chief medical resident, Miami VA Medical Center, University of Miami, 2012-2013
- Recipient, Intern of the Year Award, Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami, 2010