O'Connor Lab

Roddy S. O’Connor, Ph.D.

Dr. O’Connor graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Limerick (UL), Ireland. At UL, Dr. O’Connor developed his initial interests in metabolism; studying in the laboratory of the renowned metabolic biochemist Dr. Phil Jakeman.  Dr. O’Connor continued his education at Emory University, studying the impact of NFAT-mediated transcription in myogenic stem cell differentiation.  His work revealed how glycine, arginine, and methionine, combined as a guanidino acetate cell culture supplement, support the energy cost of stem cell fusion during tissue repair. This work received editorial praise from the Journal of Physiology and culminated in his Ph.D. in Molecular and Systems Pharmacology in 2007. Dr. O’Connor completed his first postdoctoral fellowship, at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the role of oncogenic microRNA’s in rhabdomyosarcoma. This was followed by additional postdoctoral training with Dr. Michael Milone examining the role of metabolism in CAR-T cell differentiation. At Penn, he developed a series of approaches including metabolic flux analysis and isotopic tracer technology to understand how metabolic adjustments in CAR-T cells that have been genetically engineered to express distinct co-stimulatory domains influence central memory differentiation, increase oxidative metabolism, and promote long-lasting persistence. His skillset has led to a series of collaborations yielding high impact publications in Immunity, Nature Immunology, and Nature Medicine. Dr. O’Connor is a highly-regarded expert in CAR-T cell metabolism and has presented his findings at AAI, ASGCT, and the CAR-TCR Summit. Dr. O’Connor co-organizes the annual metabolomics symposium at Penn, and has presented several workshops as well as a webinar series on CAR-T cell metabolism.