Research Team

Learn more about Dr. Kenderian and his research team in the T Cell Engineering Lab at Mayo Clinic.

  • Saad J. Kenderian, M.B., Ch.B.

    Dr. Kenderian is focused on adoptive cellular therapy and allogeneic transplantation for hematological malignancies.

    He completed a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education (now Mayo Clinic School of Graduation Medical Education) and received the Mayo Clinic Scholar award in 2013. Dr. Kenderian joined the translational research program in the laboratory of Carl H. June, M.D. of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he worked under the direction of Dr. June and Saar Gill, M.D., Ph.D. His work involved the development of novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy for acute myeloid leukemia as well as different strategies to improve CAR-T cell therapy for lymphoid malignancies.

    Dr. Kenderian is developing novel second-generation CAR-T cell therapies for hematological malignancies using standard cloning techniques, lentiviral transduction, T cell functional assays, patient-derived xenograft immunodeficient mouse models, multiparameter flow cytometry, bioluminescent imaging, multiplex cytokine analysis and genome engineering tools.

    Awards

    • Gilead Scholar Award, 2019 Gilead Sciences
    • New Investigator Award, 2018 Mayo Clinic, Department of Medicine
    • Young Investigator Award, 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network
    • Biotechnology/Bio-business Award, 2017 Regenerative Medicine Minnesota
    • Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Award in Cancer Research, 2017 Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
    • Plenary Presentation, 2017 American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
    • Best Abstract Award, 2017 American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
  • 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) program at the University of Minnesota. Cox's research is focused on using gene editing methods to improve the function of chimeric antigen receptor (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.

    Awards

    • 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 Torgahbeh, M.D.

    Dr. Hefazi Torgahbeh 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 chimeric-antigen-receptor regulatory T-cells (CAR-Tregs) and hopes to learn new approaches in translational research in Dr. Kenderian's lab.

    Awards

    • Outstanding Hematology/Oncology Fellow, Minnesota Society of Medical Oncology, 2019
    • ECOG-ACCRIN Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship Award, 2019
    • Clinical Research Training Institute, ASH, 2018
  • Claudia Manriquez Roman, M.Sc.

    Claudia Manriquez Roman is a pre-doctoral graduate student in the Virology and Gene Therapy Program (VGT) at the 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, 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.

    Awards

    • Mayo Clinic Department of Molecular Medicine Small Grant Award, 2019
  • Paulina Horvei, M.D.

    Dr. Horvei is a research fellow in pediatric hematology oncology at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Chile Medical School and completed her residency in New York City at the Icahn School of Medicine, Elmhurst Hospital, Mount Sinai Health Network. Her research in Dr. Kenderian's lab is focused in developing CAR-T cell therapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

    Awards

    • ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 61st ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition, 2019
  • 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, 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.

    Awards

    • Brains Together For a Cure Grant, BTFC, 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, 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.

    Awards

    • 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, 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 in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. His research focus is the development of novel CAR-T cell therapies for autoimmune and cancerous diseases.

  • 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 production using nonviral methods. She completed bachelor's and master's degrees in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in 2014, and earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 2019.

  • Erin Tapper

    Erin Tapper earned a bachelor's degree in genetics from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 and has a strong research background in molecular biology. Her primary research in the T Cell Engineering Lab is focused on assessing the function of current clinical CART-19 therapy.