Breakfast Club Seminar Series

"Bioengineering Immunity: From Early Cancer Detection to T Cell Therapies"

Gabe Kwong, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Tech / Emory School of Medicine

While it is now clear that the immune system can be harnessed to fight cancer, the next wave of immunotherapies need to overcome the barriers revealed from clinical practice to increase the number and types of patients that meaningfully respond to treatment. In this seminar, I will describe our work on synthetic biomarkers for early detection of response and resistance to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. These activity-based diagnostics rely on the ubiquity of protease dysregulation and data classification by machine learning for sensitive and specific detection. The second half of the seminar will be focused on our work on CAR T cell therapies where treatment of solid tumors typically results in poor responses despite the clinical success of anti-CD19 CAR T cells against certain types of hematological cancers. To breakthrough this barrier, we are developing strategies to potentiate therapy including thermogenetic control of CAR T cells to localize production of otherwise systemically toxic adjuvants, and sensitizing tumors through the delivery of synthetic antigens to overcome the lack of tumor-specific CAR targets. Our work motivates new bioengineering approaches to drive the next wave of immunotherapies.

Kwong is an Associate Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Synthetic Immunity in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory School of Medicine. His research program merges bioengineering approaches with immunology to develop new methods to sense, modulate and control immune cell function. His work impacts human health in areas including cancer, autoimmunity, and infectious diseases. Kwong graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Bioengineering, received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Caltech, and conducted postdoctoral studies at MIT. His list of distinctions include the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, NIH Director's New Innovator Award, TEDMED Hive

Innovator Award, the SBUR Don Coffey Lectureship and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. Kwong is co-founder of Glympse Bio and Port Therapeutics that have combined to raise over $85+ million in capital. He holds 30 issued or pending patents in biotechnology.

The IBB Breakfast Club Seminar Series was started with the spirit of the Institute's interdisciplinary mission in mind to feature local IBB faculty member's research in a seminar format. Faculty are often asked to speak at other universities and conferences, but do not often present at their home institution - this seminar series is an attempt to close that gap. IBB Breakfast Club Seminars are open to all in the bio-community.