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Yapeng Su, PhD

One in 64 people in the U.S. develops pancreatic cancer in their lifetime and only 9% will survive 5 years. This rate has barely changed in the last 40 years; better innovative treatments are urgently needed. Among the most promising immunotherapies is adoptive T cell therapy (ACT), which involves infusion of the patients' own immune T cells that have been engineered outside of their body to make them selectively kill cancer cells. ACT has been effective against certain blood cancers but has had limited success against solid tumors, including pancreatic cancers. Dr. Su will quantitatively assess the mechanisms that contribute to the decreased effectiveness of ACT against pancreatic cancer. He will use specimens obtained from mouse models and pancreatic cancer patients receiving ACT to develop computational frameworks that can be applied to single-cell sequencing data and other large datasets. His findings should inform the design of next-generation ACT against pancreatic cancer and potentially other solid tumors. Dr. Su received his BS from Tianjin University and his PhD in engineering/systems biology from the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Su will develop and apply thermodynamic-inspired information-theoretical approaches to deconvolute the high-dimensional single-cell multi-modal data to resolve master-regulators contributing to adoptive cell therapy (ACT) ineffectiveness in the context of pancreatic cancer. In addition, he will utilize Bayesian statistical methods on the spatial multiomic data to reconstruct the cellular- and molecular factors that compromise the efficacy of ACT for pancreatic cancer in mice and humans.

Project title: "Quantitative analysis to elucidate spatial-temporal heterogeneity of therapeutic T cell dysfunction mechanisms in the context of adoptive cell therapy against pancreatic cancer"
Institution: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Award Program: Quantitative Biology Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Philip D. Greenberg, MD, and Raphael Gottardo, PhD
Cancer Type: Pancreatic
Research Area: Immunotherapy