Researcher Spotlight: Ivan Cohen, PHD
PERELMAN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy that modifies a patient’s own immune cells to recognize and kill tumor cells. Anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy has shown promise in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphomas but also targets healthy CD19-expressing B cells. Depletion of B cells can leave patients vulnerable to infections such as COVID-19. Dr. Cohen’s LRF research focuses on developing a novel CAR T cell therapy that targets the VH4-34 B cell receptor that is found exclusively on lymphoma cells. Through this research, he hopes to develop a novel CAR T therapy that specifically targets lymphoma cells while sparing healthy B cells, thereby avoiding severe immunosuppression.
Dr. Cohen is a postdoctoral fellow at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He first became interested in the role of immunotherapy in cancer treatment during his PhD training at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he learned how tumor cells can influence the immune environment around them. His work in the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies has inspired his commitment to understanding how these processes affect treatment outcomes in lymphoma. “I come to work every day surrounded by absolute leaders in the field of cellular therapies,” he says.
Dr. Cohen hopes to build on his experiences as an LRF researcher to pursue a career in drug development, with the ultimate goal of bringing new therapies into the clinic. “The rapid pace with which the field of cellular therapies is moving is mind-blowing,” he says. “I look forward to being involved in bringing therapies closer to patients.”