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PICI Welcomes New Center Director at UCSF

Kole Roybal, PhD, succeeds Lewis Lanier, PhD, who has made an indelible impact on the field of cancer immunology

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Kole Roybal, PhD, has been appointed to the role of Center Director for PICI at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Roybal succeeds founding Center Director Dr. Lewis Lanier, PhD, following his retirement. Dr. Roybal will join Dr. Lawrence Fong, MD, Center Co-Director, in the continued leadership and direction of the PICI at UCSF site.

We at PICI wish to thank Dr. Lanier for his years of dedication to advancing the field of cancer immunology. His relentless pursuit of breakthrough science and efforts to develop the next generation of cancer immunologists has had an undeniable impact on the field, including the initial recruitment of Dr. Roybal to UCSF in 2017 as a PICI member researcher. We congratulate Dr. Lanier, a founding member of the PICI Consortium, on all his achievements on behalf of cancer patients and wish him a well-deserved and active retirement. We look forward to his next chapter, which will include ongoing involvement in the PICI Network.

Dr. Roybal will take up the mantle as PICI Center Director as of September 2023. Dr. Roybal has had a distinguished career to date and is currently Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF. The Roybal Lab at UCSF harnesses the tools of synthetic biology and immunology to control and customize immune cell therapeutics for cancer and autoimmunity. In addition, Dr. Roybal is an Affiliate Investigator at Gladstone Institutes.

His body of work was foundational to the next-generation immune therapy company Cell Design Labs, where he was a founding scientist. Cell Design Labs was acquired by Gilead in 2017. Dr. Roybal was also instrumental in developing universal CAR T-cell technology in collaboration with Xyphos Biosciences, which was acquired by Astellas Pharma in 2019. He co-founded Arsenal Biosciences, which focuses on building cellular therapies for solid tumors with a combination of cutting-edge synthetic biology and gene-editing technologies, and is deeply connected to PICI as a founder of several early-stage PICI NewCos.

Dr. Roybal’s ambitious work and entrepreneurial spirit will be an asset to PICI and our Network in his new role as UCSF Center Director and is aligned with PICI’s mission to accelerate breakthrough immuno-oncology treatments to patients. We wish him great success as he continues to build on the incredible legacy of PICI at UCSF.

Please join us in congratulating both Dr. Lanier and Dr. Roybal.