Researcher Spotlight

Researcher Spotlight: Elisa Mandato, PhD


Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and the most common hematologic malignancy in the United States. Dr. Mandato’s LRF research project will involve developing murine (mice) models carrying the predominant genetic alterations identified in patient-derived lymphoma samples. “The models are genetically engineered to carry a combination of the abnormalities that drive the development of a subset of DLBCLs in humans and will represent faithful models of the disease,” Dr. Mandato explains. The models will characterize the pre-malignant and malignant microenvironment and assess the immune system’s role in tumor response. “These models could also represent ideal tools for testing new targeted therapeutic strategies.” Moreover, Dr. Mandato and her team will examine the tumor microenvironment in a cohort of DLBCL patient samples with known genetic alterations using a panel that captures the markers expressed by different immune cell populations.

Dr. Mandato is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She received her PhD from the Veneto Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) in Padua, Italy. Her research builds on her interest in immune escape mechanisms and aberrant signaling pathways in B-cell lymphomas. “I am involved in analyses of genetic bases of immune evasion in lymphoid malignancies, including DLBCL and classical Hodgkin Lymphoma,” says Dr. Mandato. “The development of murine systems to model combinations of defined genetic alterations of human lymphomas can translate into approaches of benefit for patients with these diseases.” Her devotion to lymphoma research stems from losing a loved one to lymphoma as a teenager. “I thought if there would have been an effective treatment, she would still be alive, and I like to think that was the moment when the idea of lymphoma research developed in my mind,” she shares.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Mandato believed that she would come to the U.S., publish a paper and return to Italy; but the current pandemic opened her eyes to the fact that many things are out of our control. “It has been four years since I moved to the U.S., and I do not plan to go back anytime soon. I cannot think where I want to be in 10 years from now — that is out of my control,” says Dr. Mandato. “I can say that two years from now, I would like to publish impactful research and continue to make progress in my career,” she shares.