Dr. Ghassemi’s laboratory focuses on developing novel approaches to engineer CAR T cells for adoptive immunotherapy of cancer.

Major projects include:

1) Developing quiescent CAR T cells in less than 24 hours from collection. This work evaluates how different CAR designs function in quiescent compared with pre-activated T cell subsets, with a focus on defining the optimal signal transduction domains and T cell subset needed for rapid manufacturing of highly potent CAR T cell therapies.

2) Redesigning lentiviral vectors to enhance quiescent T cell transduction through viral engineering that focuses on envelope and HIV accessory proteins.

3) Developing quiescent CAR T cells targeting solid tumors. This work includes genetic approaches to A) increase the potency of quiescent CAR T cells after infusion, and B) enhance CAR T cell trafficking and engraftment at the tumor site.

4) In collaboration with the Singh Center for Nanotechnology at UPenn, developing a novel culture platform with optimized micro- and nano-scale geometric features that overcome physical (e.g. diffusion) barriers that limit lentiviral transduction especially for quiescent T cells.