Myriam Bouchlaka, PhD, Receives Inaugural AAI Careers in Immunology Fellowship
Congratulations to Myriam Bouchlaka, PhD, for receiving one of the inaugural American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Careers in Immunology Fellowships. AAI established this award in 2014 to advance the careers of AAI member scientists by providing stipends to predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The fellowship will provide one year of salary support for her research in the laboratory of Christian Capitini, MD, starting October 1.
Dennis Ea Receives Pediatric Oncology Student Training Award
Congratulations to Dennis Ea, a medical student in the laboratory of Christian Capitini, MD, for being awarded a Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) Award for $6000 from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for his proposal “Inhibition of BCL2 in T cell ALL.” Dennis will examine the ability of BCL2 inhibitors to inhibit T cell ALL growth and survival both in vitro and in vivo. He will also determine if BCL2 inhibition makes T cell ALL more amenable to immunotherapy.
Lauren Reil Receives Honors and Undergraduate Research Committee Award
Congratulations to Lauren Reil, an undergraduate student in the lab of Christian Capitini, MD, on her recent award from the Honors and Undergraduate Research Committee of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Lauren's project, "Tracking Natural Killer Cells After Haploidentical Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants Using Fluorine-19" aims to optimize the non-toxic tracer agent 19F using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track NK cells in vivo. The lab will monitor the fate of NK cells after their infusion to determine how they induce their anti-tumor effects. Through this grant, Lauren will receive a stipend of $1,500 and her mentor, Dr. Capitini, will receive $500 to cover lab expenses.
Dr. Christian Capitini Awarded Pilot Grant from UW-ICTR
Christian Capitini, MD is collaborating with Peiman Hematti, MD (Medicine-Hematology/Oncology), on his project, "Infusing MEMs as protection from radiation injury and GVHD." Leveraging local expertise in developing cellular therapies as well as in mesenchymal stem cells, this project will characterize mesenchymal stem cells (MEMs) in vitro by analyzing cell surface molecule expression and cytokine production. This project will also test the potency of human MEMs in 2 xenograft models of radiation injury - a GVHD model induced by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and a radiation injury model in immunodeficient mice that can tolerate human MEM infusions.
Results from this proposal may lead to a novel cellular therapy, as being the first clinical indication for human macrophages, that could be applied to medical and nonmedical setting involving radiation, and could be rapidly translatable to the clinic.
Christian Capitini, MD, Receives NIH-NCI Award
Congratulations to Christian Capitini, MD on receiving a National Institutes of Health-National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) for his project entitled "Inhibiting STAT1 as a novel graft-versus-host/graft-versus-leukemia therapy".
This proposal will provide the foundation for bringing novel drugs that target a molecule called STAT1 as a means of improving the safety and efficacy of bone marrow transplants, and ultimately improving the ability of clinicians to treat patients with high-risk or refractory leukemia. The 4 year award totals $721,440, including 75% protected research time and support of lab expenses.
Myriam Bouchlaka, PhD, Receives Cayman's Women in Research Travel Grant
Congratulations to Myriam Bouchlaka, PhD, for getting the $250 Cayman's Women in Research Travel Grant for her abstract that will be presented at the 2014 American Association for Immunologists Annual Meeting.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Cayman Chemical offered one woman in research a travel grant to be used towards a conference of her choice.
Nice work Myriam!
Christian Capitini, MD, Earns Early Career Faculty Travel Grant from the American Association of Immunologists
Christian Capitini, MD, recently earned a $1250 Early Career Faculty Travel Grant from the American Association of Immunologists for his abstract entitled "19F-MRI for tracking NK Cells after adoptive transfer" at their 2014 annual meeting.
AAI Travel Awards and Grants recognize the professional promise of early- and mid-career investigators by assisting them with travel to the AAI annual meeting and travel to learn a new technique.
Dr. Christian Capitini Chairs Session for World Drug Discovery Conference
Dr. Christian Capitini was selected as a Session Chair for the Gene/Cell Therapy session at the Target Meeting 3rd World Drug Discovery Online Conference.
Major sessions of interest included:
- general pharmaceutical research,
- small molecule compounds & natural products,
- drug screening technology,
- drug delivery & targeting,
- biotechnology & biopharmaceuticals,
- preclinical development, and
- clinical trials.
Myriam Bouchlaka, PhD, Presents at the UW Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center
Myriam Bouchlaka, PhD presented “19F-MRI for Tracking NK Cells After Adoptive Transfer” at the UW Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center.
Myriam's talk focused on children with metastatic solid tumors that remain essentially incurable with conventional chemotherapy and radiation, with no significant improvement in survival over the past three decades.
Dr. Christian Capitini Presents at UW Department of Allergy/Immunology Grand Rounds
Christian Capitini, MD, discussed “Overcoming GVHD to improve immunotherapy of cancer after allogeneic bone marrow transplant” at the UW Department of Allergy/Immunology Grand Rounds.
The UW Department of Allergy/Immunology Grand Rounds is a showcase of core educational topics presented by faculty, fellows and invited speakers. Topics relate to the practice of allergy and related clinical and bench research.
MACC Fund Sponsors 8 UW SMPH Oncology Research Projects
The Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund has declared that it will fund each of eight separate grant requests made by the Departments of Pediatrics and Human Oncology.
The grants will fund each project for $100,000 over the next two years.
Congratulations to all of the researchers involved.
Matthew Kutz Receives St. Baldrick's Summer Fellowship
Matthew Kutz, a medical student and Shapiro Summer Research Fellow working in the laboratory of Christian Capitini, MD, was recently awarded a St. Baldrick's Summer Fellowship. This $5000 award is for his project "Monitoring of 19F-labeled NK cell trafficking for Cancer Immunotherapy using MRI."
Mr. Kutz will use a novel approach in tracking natural killer cells in vivo by MRI using a nonradioactive isotope of fluorine. He also hopes to develop protocols that will facilitate NK cell trafficking to, and elimination of, pediatric tumors.
Christian Capitini, MD, Presents at NHLBI PACT Workshop
Dr. Capitini presented “Using mouse models to optimize cell therapies for GVL/GVHD” at the NHLBI PACT workshop-Developing cellular therapies: from preclinical safety to clinical evaluation.
The PACT Education Committee mission is to promote interest in cellular therapy/engineering among
physicians and scientists-in-training and to prepare interested individuals for academic careers in cellular
A summary of the talks can be found here.
Dr. Christian Capitini Named to Pediatric Cancer ‘Dream Team’
Six Department of Pediatrics faculty and scientists are part of a national pediatric cancer research “Dream Team” that was awarded a multimillion dollar grant to develop new therapies for high-risk childhood cancers.
The four-year, $15.5 million grant was funded by Stand Up to Cancer, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. UW researchers will receive $340,000 each year to develop novel, advanced treatments that use the body’s own immune system to kill cancer.
Learn More About the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team
Seema Rao, MD, Selected for NIH T32 Training Grant
Congratulations to Seema Rao, MD, for being selected as a recipient of an NIH T32 Training Grant in Oncology for her proposed studies in allogeneic bone marrow transplant.
Seema will study the impact of using ex vivo expanded NK cells on graft-versus-tumor responses and GVHD in preclinical models. She will also complete classes in biostatistics, manuscript and grant writing, and training in the responsible conduct of research.
Christian Capitini, MD, Moderates Professional Development Sessions for Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting
Dr. Capitini moderated a new “Professional Development Session” offered for early career scientists at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting.
It is the mission of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer to improve cancer patient outcomes by advancing the science, development and application of cancer immunology and immunotherapy through our core values of interaction/integration, innovation, translation and leadership in the field.
Dr. Christian Capitini Presents at MATHBIO4: SCALE Symposium
Dr. Capitini discussed “Tracking 19F-labeled natural killer cells by MRI” at the MATHBIO4: SCALE Symposium at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
The two-day conference explored bioscience problems that are informed by a broader mathematical or computational treatment of scale to obtain a more complete understanding of the whole that often challenges intuition and expands across different fields of scientific inquiry.
View Lecture Online
Christian Capitini, MD, Presents at Third International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology
Dr. Capitini gave an invited oral presentation “Optimizing 19-F MRI for monitoring of adoptive cellular therapies in vivo” at the Third International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology.
Major topics of the conference included:
- cellular therapies using antigen-specific and gene-modified T cells for targeting leukemia and pediatric solid tumors;
- overcoming hurdles and barriers with regard to immunogenicity, immune escape, and the role of tumor microenvironment;
- and current antibody/immunoconjugate approaches for the treatment of pediatric malignancies.
Dr. Christian Capitini Awarded UWCCC Funding
Dr. Christian Capitini has received an award of $48,942 from the UWCCC to pursue pilot studies of "Monitoring of 19F-labeled NK cell trafficking for cancer immunotherapy using MRI". This work is developing a new way to label NK cells with a novel Fluorine isotope, that enables sensitive MRI detection.
This will potentially be of great help in monitoring the activity of NK cell immunotherapy.
Mallery Olsen Receives Pediatric Oncology Student Training Award
Mallery Olsen, a medical student in the lab of Christian Capitini, MD, was recently awarded a Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. This $6,000 award is for her project, “Tracking of 19F labelled NK cells by MRI.”
Because there is no way to track immune cells clinically after they are infused to treat cancer, through this research, Ms. Olsen will optimize a nonradioactive isotope of fluorine as a means of labeling natural killer cells for detection by novel MRI technology.
Dr. Christian Capitini Presents at UW Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds
Dr. Capitini presented “Tumor vaccines after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a lost hope?” at the UW Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds.
The Pediatrics Grand Rounds program features weekly lectures on cutting-edge topics related to the practice of pediatrics. Department faculty, residents, and medical students as well as community-based pediatricians and pediatric specialists benefit from these clinically relevant lectures presented by UW faculty and many guest faculty from around the country.
View Lecture Online
Dr. Christian Capitini Accepted into the University of Wisconsin Centennial Scholars Program
Congratulations to Christian Capitini, MD, for his acceptance into the University of Wisconsin Centennial Scholars Program. This program provides a 3-year award of $75,000/year + fringe benefits and offers at least 50% protected research time.
Dr. Capitini’s research focuses on using models of allogeneic bone marrow transplant to cure pediatric tumors with dendritic cell vaccines, adoptive NK cell and T cell infusions. He is also developing novel therapies for graft-versus-host-disease.
Dr. Christian Capitini Awarded MACC Funding
Congratulations to Christian M. Capitini, MD, for his recent award of $100,000 from the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC fund) for “Inhibiting STAT1 as a platform for GVHD resistance and preservation of GVL.”
Completion of this project will provide evidence in relevant preclinical alloBMT models that using bone marrow-derived cells deficient in STAT1 will create a state of GVHD resistance, allowing the host to tolerate higher doses of DLI, potentially allowing for a more potent GVL effect.
Christian Capitini, MD, Selected as a Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels 2011 Scholar Grant Recipient
Congratulations to Christian Capitini, MD, who was selected as a recipient of Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels 2011 Scholar Grant. This $50,000 award is for Dr. Capitini’s 1-year project, “Development of STAT1 inhibitors for treating pediatric leukemia and modulation of allogeneic bone marrow transplant.”
The goal of this project is to investigate the role of STAT1 signaling on donor bone marrow-derived cells in preventing graft versus host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT).