Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Laurence J.N. Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bradley McIntyre, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Savoldo, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tomasz Zal, Ph.D.


Cell-based therapies have demonstrated potency and efficacy as cancer treatment modalities. T cells can be dichotomized by their T cell receptor (TCR) complexes where alpha/beta T cells (95% of T cells) and gamma/delta T cells (+T cells proliferated to clinically significant numbers and ROR1+ tumor cells were effectively targeted and killed by both ROR1-specific CAR+ T cell populations, although ROR1RCD137 were superior to ROR1RCD28 in clearance of leukemia xenografts in vivo. The second specific aim focused on generating bi-specific CD19-specific CAR+ gamma/delta T cells with polyclonal TCRgamma/delta repertoire on CD19+ artificial antigen presenting cells (aAPC). Enhanced cytolysis of CD19+ leukemia was observed by CAR+ gamma/delta T cells compared to CARneg gamma/delta T cells, and leukemia xenografts were significantly reduced compared to control mice in vivo. The third specific aim looked at the broad anti-tumor effects of polyclonal gamma/delta T cells expanded on aAPC without CAR+ T cells, where Vdelta1, Vdelta2, and Vdelta3 populations had naïve, effector memory, and central memory phenotypes and effector function strength in the following order: Vdelta2>Vdelta3>Vdelta1. Polyclonal gamma/delta T cells eliminated ovarian cancer xenografts in vivo and increased survival compared to control mice. Thus, translating these methodologies to clinical trials will provide cancer patients novel, safe, and effective options for their treatment.


gamma/delta T cells, immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptors, leukemia, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, T cell therapy