Immunotherapy & Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Research Group (Capitini)

Our group focuses on using preclinical models of allogeneic blood and marrow transplant (alloBMT) to cure pediatric cancers. The goal of this research is two-fold: (1) to improve graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effects using adoptive cellular therapies, like T cell and natural killer (NK) cell infusions, and antibody-based approaches that have potential to be translated into the clinic; (2) to reduce or eliminate graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) through modulation of antigen presenting cells.

Hope On Wheels Donates $50,000 to Pediatric Cancer Research


One component of the Immunotherapy & Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Research Group is exploring methods to improve the GVT effect. T cells can recognize tumors as foreign, treating any evidence of relapsed disease. Dr. Capitini is a site investigator for clinical trials studying a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified T cell for relapsed leukemia.


American Family Children’s Hospital First in Wisconsin to Offer Newly Approved CAR-T Leukemia Therapy

There are other populations of lymphocytes that also contribute to the GVT effect, such as NK cells. Ongoing work is combining NK cells expanded with costimulatory molecules and gamma (c) cytokines with antibodies to stimulate NK cell proliferation and activation against several pediatric tumors in the alloBMT setting. We are also developing imaging techniques to monitor NK cell trafficking in vivo.

Engineering and Observing a Graft-vs-Tumor Effect Against Neuroblastoma


All of the potential benefits of using alloBMT to treat cancer comes with the potential of inducing GVHD, which is caused by donor T cells attacking normal host tissues such as the liver, skin or gut. Dr. Capitini has previously demonstrated that even subclinical GVHD can have deleterious effects on the efficacy of tumor vaccines as well as promote tumor growth. He also showed a novel approach of modulating GVHD through usage of T cell depleted bone marrow deficient in gamma interferon receptor signaling. By using this platform, he has identified a molecule called STAT1, which is downstream of the gamma interferon receptor, plays a critical role in regulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and GVHD. Ongoing work is exploring the impact of pDCs and other antigen presenting cells on GVHD.

Tumor Vaccines After Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation – A Lost Hope?
UW Pediatrics Grand Rounds – Christian M. Capitini, MD

Additional Research Activities

  • Basic, translational and clinical research of pediatric cancers
  • Adoptive cell therapies (NK cell and CAR T cell infusions)
  • Models of bone marrow transplant
  • Graft-versus-host-disease
  • Cancer vaccines
  • Antigen presenting cells

Research Opportunities – Graduate Students

For students interested in obtaining a PhD, Dr. Capitini is a trainer for the Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP), Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB), Clinical Investigation (ICTR), and Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBMS) Graduate Programs. For more information, please click on the link for each program above.

Research Opportunities – Postdoctoral Fellows

Interested applicants with experience in cellular immunology, tumor models and/or molecular genetics may send a cover letter, CV, and emails for 3 references to for consideration.

Lab News

  • Christian Capitini and team awarded UW Research Forward grant

    Congratulations to Principal Investigator Christian Capitini, MD, associate professor, Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant, along with co-PIs Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, professor, Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant, and Reinier Hernandez, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of …

  • Christian Capitini, MD, will collaborate with Saha Lab on new award

    Congratulations to Krishanu Saha, PhD, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Christian Capitini, MD, associate professor, Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant, who will serve as Co-PIs on a new project funded by the UW Grainger Institute for …

  • David Evans, PhD, awarded NIH grant with Christian Capitini, MD

    David Evans, PhD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, was recently awarded a new R01 grant from NIH along with Co-Investigator Christian Capitini, MD, associate professor, Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant. This five-year award (with Year …

  • Christian Capitini, MD, awarded two UWCCC pilot grants

    Christian Capitini, MD, associate professor, Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant, was recently awarded two separate grants through the 2020-2021 UW Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC) Support Grant Pilot Program competition. In the first, Capitini will serve …

  • ‘Dream Team’ recognized with AACR Team Science Award

    The St. Baldrick’s Foundation-Stand Up 2 Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, which includes pediatric faculty members Christian Capitini, MD, associate professor, Ken DeSantes, MD, professor, Mario Otto, MD, PhD, associate professor, and Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, professor, was selected for the American Association …

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Christian Capitini, MD

Christian M. Capitini, MD
Associate Professor
(608) 262-2415
Twitter:  @CapitiniMD