Lee Lab

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional

Dean Lee, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator

Dean Anthony Lee, MD, PhD, is a physician in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunology Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. He is a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and the DiMarco Family Endowed Chair in Cell Based Therapy.

Dr. Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Fresno Pacific College, completed his medical, doctoral, and pediatric residency training at Loma Linda University then completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Lee is chair of the Cellular Therapy Strategy Group for the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, member of the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, and member of the Cell Therapy Steering Committee for the Children’s Oncology Group.

Nationwide Children's Researcher

Meisam Naeimi Kararoudi, DVM, PhD
Post-Doctoral fellow

Dr. Meisam Naeimi Kararoudi received his veterinary surgery degree from Iran. He obtained his PhD from the University of Perugia, Italy and was trained as an Erasmus scholar at the University of Oxford, UK. Dr. Naeimi focused on understanding the role of immune cells such as iNKT cells in cardiovascular diseases and also studied the role of miRNAs in AML using CRISPR/Cas9. During his PhD in Oxford and Italy, he received several International scholarships and grants.

Being a veterinary surgeon, immunologist and genetic engineer brought him to Sweden where he used CRISPR/Cas9 to decrease rejection after transplantation of tissue engineered organs at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. During this period, he also worked in SciLifeLab as a visiting Post-Doc to use genetic modification in cancer-related projects.

Currently, he works as a post-doc fellow in the Cell Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Ohio. Under the supervision of Dr. Dean Lee, he developed a method to genetically modify the hard-to-transfect human Natural Killer cells using CRISPR, and identified novel approaches to enhance their cytotoxicity and to target cancers via chimeric antigen receptors. Dr. Naeimi is also involved in developing new methods to detect expanded NK cells in-vivo using MRI."

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Prashant Trikha
Research Scientist

Immune evasion is an important step in tumor progression, and cancer cells are known to evade the host immune system in the establishment of metastatic disease. I have been investigating of how aberrant signaling between cancer cells and the innate immune cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME) promotes tumor growth. Furthermore, I have examined the mechanisms of how suppressive immune cells including, MDSC attenuate the function of natural killer cell (NK) in cancer patients. NK cells from cancer patients with are significantly impaired, the focus of my current research is to investigate the role of NK cells in cancer surveillance and to better understand the molecular mechanisms that lead to NK cell dysfunction in cancer patients. I am keen on developing NK cell based therapies for treatment of patients with hematological malignancies and solid cancers

Nationwide Children's Researcher

Michelle Watts
Cell Therapy Program Manager

The Joint Cell Therapy program is a partnership between Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center to be at the frontline in the development of these new treatments. The collaboration is dedicated to pursuing clinical trials and translational research to develop innovative approaches. As the program manager, Michelle Watts coordinates from bench to bedside facilitating Phase I and Phase II cell therapy clinical trials at both institutions.

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Ezgi Elmas

Ezgi Elmas received her BS degree in Biological Science and her MS degree at the University of Perugia, Italy. She has experience with systems biology, bioinformatics and advanced molecular biology with a focus on hepatocellular carcinoma as a Researcher at Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. As a research assistant in the Lee Lab her focus includes the biology of NK cells and their genetic engineering. Her duties will include designing and implementing laboratory experiments, performing data analysis and interpretation, and assisting fellow researchers in the day-to-day workings of the lab.