Michael Nishimura, PhD


Professor, Surgery; Cancer Biology
Associate Director, Cancer Center Translational Research
Program Director, Immunologic Therapeutics

CBCC 301


Research Focus Areas

  • Tumor immunology
  • Immunotherapy

My laboratory has had a long-standing interest in the genetics of T cell receptor (TCR) genes that mediate recognition of tumor and viral antigens.  In addition to understanding the relationship between the genetics of the TCR and the function of T cells, we have developed the approach of engineering T cells from any patient to express TCR genes isolated for tumor reactive T cell clones.  The resulting TCR gene-modified T cells can recognize tumors in vitro and in vivo.  Therefore, it is now possible to provide any patient with a source of their own T cells capable of targeting their malignancies.

Despite our ability to custom generate tumor reactive T cells for patients, early clinical trials suggest TCR gene modified T cells are not as effective at tumor infiltrating T cells in treating cancer patients.  To improve the therapeutic efficacy of TCR gene modified T cells, my laboratory has several ongoing projects designed to understand the biology of TCR transduced T cells.  Using a combination of mouse in vivo tumor models, in vitro human studies, and clinical trials, my laboratory is studying the mechanisms to increase the persistence and function of adoptively transferred T cells.  We also have mouse and human studies designed to overcome tumor-induced immune suppression.  Another critical problem my laboratory is addressing is how to circumvent tumor immune escape.  And finally, we are developing novel approaches for generating TCR transduced T cells to treat cancer. 

Departmental Program:  Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy

Education / Training:
PhD:   University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD  USA

Michael Nishimura Publications