Grant will support research on engineering tumor-specific T cells for cancer immunotherapy

Prof. Yvonne Chen has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, the agency’s highest honor for faculty members at the start of their research and teaching careers. The five-year, $505,000 research grant will support Chen’s research on engineering tumor-specific T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

Tumor-targeting T cells – a type of white blood cell that can be harvested from cancer patients, genetically modified to recognize tumor cells, and then re-injected into the same patients – have shown remarkable curative potential against multiple types of cancers that are in advanced stages. However, a major challenge for a broad application of this therapy is off-tumor toxicity, in which T cells attack healthy tissues that display the same biochemical markers as tumor cells on their surfaces. The proposed research will generate T cells that are highly specific to cancer cells and reduce toxicity to healthy cells. The NSF grant will also fund outreach efforts focusing on introducing engineering careers in general and biomolecular engineering research in particular to young, underrepresented minority students in greater Los Angeles.

On behalf of the UCLA Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, we congratulate Prof. Yvonne Chen on winning the NSF CAREER Award.

Prof. Yvonne Chen’s Award Abstract