My experience working with CAR-T Cell Therapy

Michael Wang, COL ’24, Powell, OH

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work at the Ruella Lab at the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, which focuses on the study of mechanisms of relapse after chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CART) immunotherapy with the goal of rationally design innovative next-generation immunotherapies for relapsing/refractory leukemia and lymphoma. I am very fortunate to have been able to gain experience in the immunotherapy field as well as learning essential lab techniques, while at the same time working with my mentors and their projects to understand specific topics.

Before joining the lab, I have always had a lot of interest in therapies attacking cancer, and immunotherapy was a field that had always intrigued me. Having some experience in biology and basic immunology, I was at first blown with the amount of material that immunology covered. While working under my mentors Ruchi and Puneeth this summer, I was able to learn more about the field of immunology, such as specific surface markers directly involved in the activation or inhibition of certain cells and techniques used to either knock out the marker or over-express the marker depending on what effect it has on fighting cancer cells.

Beyond being able to learn more about the mechanisms of certain pathways, I have also gained a broad expertise of certain lab techniques, such as flow cytometry, western blotting, expansions, and killing assays that will be valuable as I continue to embark on my research interest. Besides learning laboratory techniques, I also was able to connect with other members in the lab and learn how everyone’s project tied in with each other. I was given a lot of freedom to learn what I wanted to and attending lab meetings and journal clubs has sparked even more interest in the field of immunotherapy. Throughout the summer, I was working with Ruchi on her project relating to a knockout of a specific marker that could potentially increase the efficiency of CAR-T cells as well as with Puneeth on a different cell surface marker. From this experience, I have gained a better sense of the career that I want to pursue and the area of medicine where I want to focus on.

As a result of this opportunity, I am excited to keep being involved in the lab and continue to make an impact in the field of immunology and immunotherapy through my work. I will be working on my own independent project during the semester, and I am very excited to be able to continue to uncover hidden mysteries on the mechanisms of certain surface markers on T cells and how it all plays a role in improving the effects of immunotherapy and directly impacting healthcare.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services