faculty photo

James L. Riley, Ph.D.

Professor of Microbiology
Department: Microbiology

Contact information
8-122 SCTR
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6160
Office: (215) 573-6792
Fax: (215) 573-8590
Graduate Group Affiliations
BS (Molecular Biology)
Vanderbilt University (Charles K Singleton, mentor), 1989.
Ph.D. (Genetics and Molecular Biology)
Emory University (Jeremy M. Boss, mentor), 1994.
Post-Graduate Training
Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Retrovirology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (Carl H. June, mentor), 1995-1999.
Permanent link

Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
CD28 family of receptors, adoptive T cell therapy, HIV gene therapy, human T regulatory therapy.

Key words: T cell activation, Tumor Specific T cells, HIV specific T cells, expression profiles.

Research Summary
Dr. Riley’s lab studies the signals that control primary human T cell activation and function with special attention to how these manipulations can be exploited to develop T cell therapies for HIV, autoimmune disease and cancer. We are studying how to best re-direct and expand human T regulatory cells for use in the treatment of autoimmune disease. We are evaluating both the use of TCR and CARs to redirect Tregs and studying both how these methods provide antigen suppression and if these approaches alter T regulatory cell stability. Part of this research is studies to understand how altering the media by which T cells are expanded in alters their function and engraftment potential in vivo. These studies have spurred interested on how various metabolic pathways are perturb by external signaling and environment. The lab is also focused on designing HIV resistant, HIV specific T cells to be key players in the HIV Cure effort. As a leader of the BEAT HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory his lab is evaluating ways to make T cells resistant to HIV entry and integration and developing HIV-1 specific chimeric antigen receptors to evaluate the ability of these T cells to control HIV replication in both in vitro and humanized mouse studies. Dr. Riley’s basic research findings using primary human T cells have been used as the basis and rationale for numerous Phase I adoptive T cell therapy clinical trials.

Rotation Projects
Please contact Dr. Riley concerning current rotation projects.

Lab personnel:

Xiaoling Jin, Lab Manager-Senior Research Investigator
Meidi Gu, Senior Research Investigator
Yuqi Zhou, Graduate Student
Mosha Deng, Graduate Student
Kaitlin Read, Postdoctoral Fellow
Divanshu Shukla, Postdoctoral Fellow
Edmund Carvalho, Postdoctoral Fellow
David Nardo, Postdoctoral Fellow
Emileigh Maddox, Research Specialist
Max Eldabbas, Research Specialist
Lynn Chen, Research Specialist
Ryan Lim, undergraduate researcher
Cole Christopher, undergraduate researcher

Selected Publications

Varela-Rohena A, Molloy PE, Dunn SM, Li Y, Suhoski MM, Carroll RG, Milicic A, Mahon T, Sutton DH, Laugel B, Moysey R, Cameron BJ, Vuidepot A, Purbhoo MA, Cole DK, Phillips RE, June CH, Jakobsen BK, Sewell AK, Riley JL: Control of HIV-1 immune escape by CD8 T cells expressing enhanced T-cell receptor. Nature Medicine 14(12): 1390-5, Dec 2008.

Plesa G, Zheng L, Medvec A, Wilson CB, Robles-Oteiza C, Liddy N, Bennett AD, Gavarret J, Vuidepot A, Zhao Y, Blazar BR, Jakobsen BK, Riley JL: TCR affinity and specificity requirements for human regulatory T-cell function. Blood 119(15): 3420-30, Apr 2012.

Riley JL: Combination checkpoint blockade--taking melanoma immunotherapy to the next level. The New England Journal of Medicine 369(2): 187-9, Jul 2013.

Wei F, Zhong S, Ma Z, Kong H, Medvec A, Ahmed R, Freeman GJ, Krogsgaard M, Riley JL: Strength of PD-1 signaling differentially affects T-cell effector functions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110(27): E2480-9, Jul 2013.

Richardson MW, Guo L, Xin F, Yang X, Riley JL: Stabilized human TRIM5α protects human T cells from HIV-1 infection. Molecular Therapy 22(6): 1084-95, Jun 2014.

Zhang Q, Wei F, Wang HY, Liu X, Roy D, Xiong QB, Jiang S, Medvec A, Danet-Desnoyers G, Watt C, Tomczak E, Kalos M, Riley JL, Wasik MA: The potent oncogene NPM-ALK mediates malignant transformation of normal human CD4(+) T lymphocytes. The American Journal of Pathology 183(6): 1971-80, Dec 2013.

Leibman RS, Riley JL: Engineering T Cells to Functionally Cure HIV-1 Infection. Molecular Therapy 23(7): 1149-59, Jul 2015.

Medvec AR, Ecker C, Kong H, Winters EA, Glover J, Varela-Rohena A, Riley JL: Improved Expansion and In Vivo Function of Patient T Cells by a Serum-Free Medium. Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev 8: 65-74, Nov 2017.

Leibman RS, Richardson MW, Ellebrecht CT, Maldini CR, Glover JA, Secreto AJ, Kulikovskaya I, Lacey SF, Akkina SR, Yi Y, Shaheen F, Wang J, Dufendach KA, Holmes MC, Collman RG, Payne AS, Riley JL: Supraphysiologic control over HIV-1 replication mediated by CD8 T cells expressing a re-engineered CD4-based chimeric antigen receptor. PLoS Pathogens 13(10): e1006613, Oct 2017.

Ecker C, Guo L, Voicu S, Gil-de-Gómez L, Medvec A, Cortina L, Pajda J, Andolina M, Torres-Castillo M, Donato JL, Mansour S, Zynda ER, Lin PY, Varela-Rohena A, Blair IA, Riley JL.: Differential Reliance on Lipid Metabolism as a Salvage Pathway Underlies Functional Differences of T Cell Subsets in Poor Nutrient Environments. Cell Reports 23(3): 741, Apr 2018.

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Last updated: 09/21/2023
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