• 06/15/2021 Isaac has jointed the lab at a research assistant. Welcome!

  • 05/10/2021 Enfu has been granted tenure and promotion to Associate Professor! Congratulations!

  • 04/15/2021 Ola Mostafa has joined the lab as a research assistant. Welcome!

  • 04/15/2021  Ya-yuan Chan has joined the lab as a research assistant. Welcome!

  • 03/07/2021  Congratulations to Jennifer for her offers from multiple top PhD programs! 

  • 03/04/2021  Congratulations to Jibin for his admission to the PhD program of UCSD Division of Biological Sciences!

  • 07/29/2020  Takeya's co-1st author paper is now published on Cell.  Great colla. w/ Chenqi Xu and Catherine Wong!

  • 07/05/2020  Scott has completed an honor thesis and graduated from UCSD with Magna Cum Laude!

  • 05/21/2020  Xiaozheng's paper has been published on Journal of Cell Biology. Congratulations!

  • 05/16/2020  Yanzhe has been accepted by the graduate program of Columbia University! Congratulations!

  • 03/15/2020  Preston has joined the lab as a PhD student. Welcome!

  • 01/02/2020 Jibin has joined the lab as an research intern. Welcome!

  • 11/05/2019  Yunlong's paper has been been accepted by Immunity. Congratulations!

  • 08/12/2019  Enfu's review article is published on Immunological Reviews!

  • 08/01/2019  Chloe has joined the lab as an lab assistant. Welcome!

  • 07/05/2019  Scott has joined our lab as an undergraduate researcher. Welcome!

  • 04/01/2019  We have been awarded an ESI MERIT (R37) Award from the National Cancer Institute!

  • 03/28/2019  Takeya has been awarded an HFSP postdoctoral fellowship. Congratulations!

Mechanistic dissection of cancer immunotherapy targets

We work at at the interface of biochemistry, cell biology, and immunology. Our central goal is to dissect the cell biological mechanisms of immune checkpoints, "brakes" of our immune system that can be hijacked by tumors to evade immune destruction. Antibody mediated blockade of immune checkpoints has produced some success in treating a subset of tumors in a fraction of patients. However the response is restricted to a small subset of tumors and patients. Molecular studies of immune checkpoints are needed to expand the therapy to a larger population of patients. Our long-term goal is to fill this mechanistic gap, with a joint use of cell-free reconstitution, live cell imaging and cell culture assays. 

Image by Graham Johnson

Cell free reconstitution: We reconstitute signaling networks on model membranes to gain quantitative, in-depth insights into T cell signaling that are invisible to traditional approaches. 

A giant liposome (red) reconstituted with TCR (receptor) and Lck (kinase), recruited ZAP70 (green) from the solution in respone to ATP addition.

Signaling dynamics: We probe the spatiotemporal dynamics of signaling proteins in live T cells. 

Cell cultures: We develop precise and robust cell culture assays to probe both proximal and distal readouts of immune checkpoints signaling.

Mouse models: We cross-check our findings between in vitro systems and animal models.