As principal investigator in the T Cell Engineering Lab, Dr. Kenderian leads a team focused on developing new ways of fighting cancer using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapies. Learn more about Dr. Kenderian's research team:
Mohamad M. Adada, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Adada is a clinical fellow in hematology and oncology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He completed his M.D. and Ph.D. at Stony Brook University in New York, where his research involved identifying novel targets to inhibit cancer metastasis, prior to joining Mayo Clinic in 2017. His primary research focus is the development of novel methods to increase CAR-T therapeutic efficacy through combination therapy with novel kinase inhibitors.
- American Society of Hematology (ASH) Abstract Achievement Award, 2021
- General Mills Foundation Clinician-Investigator Fellowship Award, 2020-2021
- Mayo Clinic Division of Hematology Small Grant Award, 2021
- Chief resident of the Mayo Clinic Clinician-Investigator Training Program, 2020-2022
Evandro D. Bezerra, M.D.
Dr. Bezerra is a clinical fellow in hematology and oncology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He completed his medical residency at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and at the University of Washington in Seattle prior to joining Mayo Clinic in 2019. His primary research interest is adoptive cellular immunotherapy, with a specific focus on anti-CD19 CAR-T cell therapy (CAR-T19) for B cell malignancies. He is currently working on mechanisms and predictors of resistance to CAR-T19 and hopes to find approaches to overcome CAR-T19 resistance.
- ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 2021, 2019 and 2017
Ismail Can joined the T Cell Engineering Laboratory as a graduate student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Track at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2020. He is currently focusing on understanding the mechanisms of CAR-T cell therapy failures. He aims to enhance CAR-T cell efficacy and to expand the applications of CAR-T cell therapy to additional diseases. He obtained his undergrad degree in molecular biology and genetics at Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey. He studied the identification of novel targeted therapies in several cancers at Istanbul University in Turkey and the University of Utah before he joined Mayo Clinic.
Michelle J. Cox, M.S.
Michelle Cox joined the T Cell Engineering Lab at Mayo Clinic as a research technologist in 2017 when she was accepted into the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BICB) graduate program at the University of Minnesota. Cox's research is focused on using gene editing methods to improve the function of CAR-T cells and using computational tools to study differential expression. Cox received her Master of Science in BICB from the University of Minnesota in 2019 and is currently a Ph.D. student.
- Technologist Abstract Award, International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT), 2021
- Poster Competition Winner, 12th Annual Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Research Symposium, 2020
- Best Abstract Award and Plenary Presentation for TCT, 2020
- Quality Metrics Award, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Minnesota, 2019
- Faculty Nominated Speaker, 6th Annual BICB Industry Symposium, University of Minnesota, 2019
- ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 61st ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition, 2019
- Quality Metrics Award, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Minnesota, 2018
Mehrdad Hefazi Torghabeh, M.D.
Dr. Hefazi Torghabeh is a research fellow in hematology and oncology at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. His primary research interest is allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, with a specific focus on graft-versus-host disease. He is currently working on CAR-T regulatory cells (CAR-Tregs) and hopes to learn new approaches in translational research in Dr. Kenderian's lab.
- Outstanding Hematology/Oncology Fellow, Minnesota Society of Medical Oncology, 2019
- ECOG-ACRIN Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship Award, 2019
- Clinical Research Training Institute, ASH, 2018
Ngoc (Truc) Huynh, M.Sc.
Truc Huynh is a research technologist in the T Cell Engineering Lab at Mayo Clinic. Her primary research is focused on development of engineered mesenchymal stem cell for therapeutics. She completed a bachelor's degree in biology at Can Tho University, Vietnam, in 2014, and earned a master's degree in biotechnology from Prince of Songkla University, Thailand in 2019.
Lionel A. Kankeu Fonkoua, M.D.
Dr. Kankeu Fonkoua is a clinical fellow in hematology and oncology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He completed his medical school and Internal Medicine Residency at Pennsylvania State University in Hershey, Pennsylvania, prior to joining Mayo Clinic in 2018. His primary research focus is the development of novel combinatorial immunotherapeutic strategies, including CAR-T cell therapy, for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers.
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Young Investigator Award, 2020
- Minnesota Society of Medical Oncology (MSCO) Outstanding Hematology/Oncology Fellow Award, 2020
- Mayo Clinic Division of Oncology Small Grant Award, 2020
Claudia Manriquez Roman, M.Sc.
Claudia Manriquez Roman is a predoctoral graduate student in the Virology and Gene Therapy Track at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Her research focus is understanding the mechanism of action of CAR-T cells as a targeted cellular therapy to improve their efficacy in B-cell lymphomas. In addition, Manriquez Roman has been accepted into the Regenerative Sciences Training Program (RSTP), Mayo Clinic's new Ph.D. training program.
She earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology and a master's degree in biological sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). In addition to her studies at UTEP, she focused on research in therapeutic and vaccine targets for parasitic infectious diseases.
- ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 2021
- Mayo Clinic Department of Molecular Medicine Small Grant Award, 2019
Ekene J. Ogbodo, Ph.D., M.S.
Dr. Ogbodo is a research fellow in the T Cell Engineering Lab at Mayo Clinic. His research work in Dr. Kenderian's lab focuses on the development of CAR-T cell therapy that targets brain tumors as well as the tumor microenvironment of the malignancies. His other interest is in the development of CAR-T cell therapy for hematological malignancies, especially T cell malignancies. Dr. Ogbodo completed his master's degree in microbiology and immunology, followed by a doctorate degree in gastroenterology with microbiology and immunology option at the University of Nottingham, U.K.
- Commonwealth Shared Scholarship recipient, University of Nottingham, U.K., 2016
- The University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor Research Excellence, 2015
- Commonwealth Shared Scholarship, University of Nottingham, U.K., 2013
Michael W. Ruff, M.D.
Dr. Ruff has a dual appointment as a consultant in neurology and medical oncology at Mayo Clinic. He attended the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, graduating in 2013. He completed a neurology residency and a fellowship in neuro-oncology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His focus in Dr. Kenderian's lab involves using CAR-T cell therapy to treat glioblastoma.
- Brains Together For a Cure Grant, 2018-2019
Reona (Leo) Sakemura, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Sakemura completed a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology in Japan and joined the translational research program of the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine in Nagoya, Japan. There, he developed inducible chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia.
After his doctoral training, he joined the T Cell Engineering Lab to develop CAR-T cell therapies that target the microenvironment of hematological malignancies and combine CAR-T cell therapy with small molecule inhibitors. Dr. Sakemura' s research focus is adoptive cellular therapy and allogeneic transplantation for hematological malignancies. His goal is to become an independent translational investigator in the development of novel chimeric antigen receptor-T cell therapies.
- ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 2021
- ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 61st ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition, 2019
- Predolin Foundation Career Development Award, 2019
- Multiple Myeloma SPORE Career Development, 2017
Kendall J. Schick
Kendall Schick graduated from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, with a bachelor's degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. After graduation, he was accepted into the Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (MPET) program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. His research focus is the development of novel CAR-T cell therapies for autoimmune disease and cancer.
Elizabeth (Liz) L. Siegler, Ph.D., M.S.
Dr. Siegler is a research technologist in the T Cell Engineering Lab at Mayo Clinic. Her research in Dr. Kenderian's lab focuses on CAR-T cell production using nonviral methods. She completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 2014, and earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 2019.
- Regenerative Medicine Minnesota grant, 2021-2023
Olivia L. Sirpilla
Olivia Sirpilla is a graduate student who joined the T Cell Engineering Lab in 2021 while pursuing her doctorate degree as part of the Ph.D. Program's Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Track at Mayo Clinic. Her research involves the integration of data science and wet-lab validation to enhance the precision of engineered cellular therapies. She hopes to utilize the lab's expertise in cellular engineering with data analytics to create novel cellular therapies and optimize current therapies by matching engineered cell characteristics to each patient's unique disease background. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation as a 2021 Graduate Research Fellowship Program awardee.
Olivia is passionate about patient advocacy, especially for rare, understudied and underdiagnosed diseases. Her love for this work started during her undergraduate studies at Walsh University, where she earned her bachelor's degree in 2020. Prior to joining Dr. Kenderian's lab, Olivia worked under Adam Underwood, Ph.D., at Walsh and Jeremy Prokop, Ph.D., at Michigan State University. Her work at Michigan State focused on the integration of bioinformatics and molecular wet lab techniques to better characterize the genetic underpinnings of systemic responses to environmental stimuli, including COVID-19.
Olivia also acts as the student course director for the Regenerative T Cell Immunotherapy and Cellular Engineering course offered to Mayo Clinic graduate students, staff and clinical fellows each year.
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Award (NSF-GRFP), 2021
- Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean's Fellowship: Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), 2020
- Cell and Molecular Physiology Section Robert Gunn Student Award finalist for Experimental Biology, 2019
- Sigma Zeta Student Research Award, 2018
Carli M. Stewart
Carli Stewart is a graduate student in the Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Track within Mayo Clinic's Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program. Prior to starting graduate school, she graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with her Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering. Within the lab, her research goals include enhancing the field's current understanding of CAR-T cell persistence in the hopes of optimizing CAR-T cell therapy for patients with cancer.
Kun Yun earned a bachelor's degree in integrative biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree in biotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Mayo Clinic, she accumulated two years of research experience in DNA vaccine development for cancer immunotherapies and infectious diseases at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.