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.

UW Research Team Moves Cancer Immunotherapy Another Step Ahead

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

  • Travel Grant Awarded to Aicha Quamine

    Congratulations to Hematology/Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant Graduate Student, Aicha Quamine, for being selected as recipient of a Graduate Program in Cellular & Molecular Biology (CMB) Travel Award for Fall 2019. Aicha, a student in …

  • Dr. Christian Capitini Receives NIH/NCI Grant

    Congratulations to Christian Capitini, MD, on his recent one-year supplement of $500,000 to the UW Carbone Cancer Center grant from the National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI).  His project, “Image‐guided CAR T …

  • Sean Rinella, MPH, Selected as “40 Under 40 in Cancer”

    Sean Rinella, MPH, an ICTR TL1-supported PhD student, working with mentorship from Christian Capitini, MD and Mario Otto, MD, PhD in their labs, has been selected as one of “40 Under 40 in Cancer” for …

  • Four Students Mentored by Pediatrics Faculty Named Hilldale Fellows

    Four UW-Madison undergraduate students mentored by Department of Pediatrics faculty received 2019 Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellows. The fellowships include a stipend to each student and to their faculty advisers. Adeela Ali (major: Pharmacology & Toxicology; mentor: Christian Capitini, MD) …

  • Five Pediatrics Faculty Members Accepted to SPR

    In 2018, five Department of Pediatrics faculty members were accepted as members of the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR). SPR’s mission is to create a network of multidisciplinary researchers to improve child health. Specifically, it …

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Christian Capitini, MD

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