Ghassemi Lab

Saba Ghassemi, PhD

sgResearch Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Saba Ghassemi graduated with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Villanova University. She then completed her PhD at Columbia University, training under Drs. Michael Sheetz and James Hone. During this time, she was an active member of an NIH-funded interdisciplinary center: The Nanomedicine Development Center (NDC) for Mechanobiology, Directing the Immune Response. During her PhD studies, Dr. Ghassemi identified an intracellular sarcomere-like unit that is responsible for sensing the mechanical properties of the extracellular environment. Combining nanotechnology and cell biology, she showed that this mechano-sensing unit operates at the nanoscale regime. Dr. Ghassemi completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania at the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies (CCI) in Dr. Michael Milone’s lab. She focused on improving CAR T cell differentiation and potency. Her studies showed that CAR T cells progressively differentiate over time: reducing the ex vivo expansion to 3 days increases potency and durable efficacy in pre-clinical models of ALL. The findings from this work are currently being translated into a clinical trial at UPenn led by Dr. Carl June. Dr. Ghassemi was awarded the St. Baldrick’s Scholar Award (2018), Early Career Scientific Research Award from the National Blood Foundation (2019), as well as a DoD Career Development award (2020). Dr. Ghassemi has emerged as an expert in the CAR T cell field with invitations to present her findings at national and international conferences (ASH, ASGCT, AAI, ISCT) and is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications. She is also a co-inventor on several patents involving methods for improving the efficacy, expansion, and fitness of CAR T cells for adoptive immunotherapy. The overarching goals of the Ghassemi Lab are to use a multidisciplinary approach that combines engineering with CAR T cell immunology to develop potent CAR T cells for adoptive immunotherapy of cancer.