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Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
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Alexander Huang, MD

Parker Bridge Fellow


A Doris Duke research fellowship provided me an opportunity to work in Gerry Linette’s Lab in 2008, studying TLR agonists as an adjuvant to dendritic cell vaccines in melanoma. My findings set the foundation for next generation vaccines using TLR agonists as an adjuvant. More importantly, seeing the hope that immunotherapy gave to patients convinced me this was a field I wanted to dedicate my career towards. I came to UPenn for oncology fellowship at a time when immunotherapies emerged as a prominent treatment strategy in human cancers. Under the basic science mentorship of John Wherry and clinical mentorship of Tara Gangadhar, I identified that a balance between re-invigoration of exhausted CD8 T cells adjusted for overall tumor burden could be used as a peripheral blood biomarker of clinical response to anti-PD1 therapy. These results have potential implications in both informing clinical practice and in understanding the mechanisms of response and resistance to PD-1 blockade in solid tumor cancers. This observation provides a foundation to further interrogate the immunologic effects of anti-PD1 therapy in the tumor microenvironment in the context of a clinical trial of neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade with paired blood and tumors samples. I will study the effect of anti-PD1 therapy on exhausted CD8 T cells in the tumor, with a goal of understanding the role of T cell re-invigoration in clinical response to PD-1 blockade in humans. I will also extend our observations in melanoma to multiple other cancer types to understand whether there is a conserved mechanism of re-invigoration to PD-1 blockade.

Education & Training

  • 2005: John Hopkins University, BS
  • 2008-2009: Doris Duke Research Fellowship, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis
  • 2010-2013: Resident in Internal Medicine, Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis
  • 2010: Mount Sinai School of Medicine with Distinction in Research
  • 2013-2017: Fellowship, Hematology/Oncology, Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Awards & Honors

  • 2015: NIH Loan Repayment Grant
  • 2013: Gregory J Gurtner Translational Research Award
  • 2011: Washington University Mentors in Medicine Research Grant
  • 2009: American Association of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Chrysalis Award
  • 2005: Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society