CRI Funded Scientists

Haydn T. Kissick, PhD, CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR

Emory University

Area of Research: Bladder Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Prostate Cancer

Dr. Haydn T. Kissick is exploring the immense immunotherapeutic potential of stem-like T cells in cancer.

In almost all cancers, patients who have more T cells in their tumors survive longer and are more likely to respond to immunotherapy. While some patients have high numbers of T cells, others have practically none. The mechanisms dictate this drastic difference, where in some patients the immune system conquers their cancer and in others it appears to ignore the cancer and allow for disease progression, remain a mystery. By studying the basic biology involved in generating a T cell response against a tumor, Dr. Kissick hopes to answer this question.

Recently his lab described T cells with stem-like qualities in prostate, renal, bladder and head and neck cancers. These stem-like T cells can continually proliferate and replenish the T cells in a patient’s tumor. Additionally, they reside inside specialized niches, and in kidney tumors that lack these niches, T cells don’t mount a response and patients progress more rapidly. Dr. Kissick has observed these structures in several other cancers too, suggesting a general cancer feature. As a STAR, Dr. Kissick aims to study the mechanisms that regulate stem-like T cell persistence in cancers and how they can be manipulated to improve treatment, and is currently investigating similar strategies in ongoing clinical trials.

Projects and Grants

Stem like CD4 and CD8 T cells in the immune response to cancer

Emory University | Bladder, Head and Neck, Kidney, Prostate | 2023

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