Research Highlights

Our research centers on deciphering the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling antitumor immunity, and exploiting knowledge to device the next-generation cancer immunotherapies.

Two active research directions are:

1.Identify new immune checkpoints and develop new immune checkpoint blockade therapy for cancer.

  • New immune metabolic checkpoints (e.g., creatine).
  • New neuron/immune interface checkpoints (e.g., serotonin axis).

2. Develop novel “off-the-shelf” allogeneic immune cell therapies for cancer.

  • Harnessing unconventional T cells: NKT, γδT, MAIT, and more.
  • Engineering stem cells: iPSC, HSC, and more.
  • Exploiting gene therapy modalities: TCR, CAR, immune enhancers, and more.
  • Targeting a broad range of cancers: blood cancers (e.g., multiple myeloma, AML), solid tumors (e.g., ovarian cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer), and more (e.g., infections and autoimmune disorders). 

Featured Publications

Lee D*, Dunn ZS*, Guo W*, Rosenthal CJ, Penn NE, Yu Y, Zhou K, Li Z, Ma F, Li M, Song T-C, Cen X, Li Y-R, Zhou JJ, Pellegrini M, Wang P, and Yang L. (*Co-first authors) Unlocking the potential of allogeneic Vδ2 T cells for ovarian cancer therapy through CD16 biomarker selection and CAR/IL-15 engineering. Nat Commun. 2023, 14(1):6942. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-42619-2. [Nature Communications  PDF][UCLA News  PDF][Springer Nature Blog  PDF]

Li Y-R*, Zhou Y*, Kim Y, Zhu Y, Ma F, Yu J, Wang Y-C, Chen X, Li Z, Zeng S, Wang X, Lee D, Ku J, Tsao T, Hardoy C, Huang J, Cheng D, Montel-Hagen A, Seet CS, Crooks GM, Larson SM, Sasine JP, Wang X, Pellegrini M, Ribas A, Kohn DB, Witte O, Wang P, and Yang L. (*Co-first authors). Development of allogeneic HSC-engineered iNKT cells for off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapy. Cell Rep Med. 2021, 2(11):100449. [Cell Reports Medicine  PDF][UCLA News  PDF][BSCRC News  PDF][JCCC News  PDF][Life Sciences News  PDF][Science Daily  PDF][CIRM Blog  PDF]

Wang X, Li B, Kim Y, Wang Y, Li Z, Yu J, Zeng S, Ma X, Choi I, Di Biase S, Smith DJ, Zhou Y, Li Y, Ma F, Huang J, Clarke N, To A, Gong L, Pham A, Moon H, Pellegrini M, and Yang L. Targeting monoamine oxidase A for T cell-based cancer immunotherapy. Sci Immunol. 2021, 6:eabh2383. [Science Immunology  PDF][Science Magazine News  PDF][UCLA News  PDF][CBS News  PDF][NBC News  PDF][Fierce Biotech News  PDF][Drug Target Review News  PDF]

Featured News

November 15, 2023

We are currently recruiting PhD students (2 openings) and postdoctoral researchers (1 opening). Welcome to apply! [PhD Openings][Postdoc Openings]... Read More

November 15, 2023

November 15, 2023- Dr. Lili Yang’s talk at the 38th SITC Annual Meeting is featured in ACIR (Accelerating Cancer Immunotherapy... Read More

March 7, 2023

March 7, 2023- Dr. Lili Yang is named on the BIOS list of Top Women in Academic Entrepreneurship alongside recent... Read More

August 5, 2021

May 11, 2021- Our off-the-shelf cell therapy technology is licensed by a Biotech startup, Appia Bio, for commercial development. The... Read More

May 18, 2021

Dr. Lili Yang receives a $5.9 million CIRM Partnering Opportunity for Translational Research Projects Award to translate a new stem... Read More