Kararoudi Lab

Led by Meisam Naeimi Kararoudi, DVM, PhD, this lab aims to develop novel cancer immunotherapies through CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing and screening technology. The lab uses novel methods of genome wide CRISPR screening to discover key genes or genetic sequences important in eliciting specific functions or phenotypes for certain cell types, such as natural killer (NK) cells. 

NK cells are immune cells with the innate ability to target several cancers. Promising results demonstrate NK-cell based immunotherapy can successfully treat pediatric malignancies. However, their ability to target solid tumors is limited, reduced by the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME). 

The Naemi Kararoudi Lab aims to use its novel CRISPR screening methods to discover genes responsible for NK cells’ sensitivity to TME, improve understandings of these genes and generate TME-resistant NK cells. By identifying mediators of immunosuppression, researchers can discover and characterize functional gene targets in NK cells, generate novel genetically reprogrammed NK cell-based therapies and improve survival of kids with devastating solid tumors.

Using gene modification in NK cells has proved challenging for researchers. The Naeimi Kararoudi Lab, however, has successfully used a DNA-free approach by electroporation of Cas9/RNP in NK cells.

Additionally, under Dean Lee, MD, PhD, another principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer, the team has developed novel methodologies to generate human primary CAR-NK cells using CRISPR gene editing. Using these methodologies, the Naeimi Kararoudi lab is developing and testing new CAR-NK and CAR-T cells to target childhood cancers.

Lab Staff

Meisam Naeimi Kararoudi

Meisam Naeimi Kararoudi, DVM, PhD
Principal Investigator, Center for Childhood Cancer
Director, CRISPR/Gene Editing Core
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Dr. Meisam Naeimi Kararoudi is a principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer and the director of the CRISPR/Gene Editing Core at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is also an assistant professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Dr. Naeimi Kararoudi also served as a postdoctoral scientist in the Lee Lab. Working with Dean Lee, MD, PhD, Dr. Naeimi Kararoudi developed a method to genetically modify hard-to-transfect human natural killer (NK) cells using CRISPR and identified novel approaches to enhance their cytotoxicity and target cancers via chimeric antigen receptors. In his own lab, Dr. Naeimi Kararoudi is developing novel gene edited immune cells such as NK cells and T-cells for cancer immunotherapy.

Dr. Naeimi Kararoudi received his veterinary surgery degree in Iran and his doctorate degree from the University of Perugia in Italy. He was also trained as an Erasmus scholar at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

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Yasemin Sezgin, MS
Research Associate and Lab Manager

Yasemin Sezgin is a research associate and lab manager for the CRISPR/Gene Editing Core and Naeimi Kararoudi Lab. Yasemin was previously a research assistant at in the Lee Lab, focusing on immunotherapy mediated by NK cells. She received her bachelor's degree in Biology and master's degree in Medical Genetics at Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Turkey.

Noushin Saljoughian

Noushin Saljoughian
Research Scientist

Noushin Saljoughian, PharmD, PhD, supports CRISPR Core R&D projects, including CRISPR Knock Out, Knock In and CRISPR screening and scanning. Dr. Saljoughian supports experimental design, performance evaluation, data collection, and results interpretation.

Dr. Saljoughian joined The Ohio State University as a postdoctoral researcher, where she contributed to research conducted by a team from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and McGill University and published in Nature Communications: “A second generation leishmanization vaccine with a markerless attenuated Leishmania major strain using CRISPR gene editing.” Dr. Saljoughian’s research expanded to include the immunomodulatory effects of new drugs, such as Ibrutinib, which have been used in cancer immunotherapy and to treat immunodeficiency disorders. Dr. Saljoughian studied the role of immune cells in cardiac dysfunction during gram negative bacterial infection with specific interest in aging, supported by a American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Careers in Immunology Fellowship, which she was awarded in 2018. She is passionate about working as a clinical trial specialist and, through clinical trials, hopes her pharmaceutical and immunological knowledge can help cancer patients.

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Genesis Snyder
Research Intern

Genesis Snyder is a research intern in the CRISPR/Gene Editing Core at Nationwide Children’s and the Naeimi Kararoudi Lab. She assists with cell lines and preparing materials for current and upcoming experiments. Genesis is currently studying kinesiology at Miami University and plans to obtain a master's degree before attending medical school.