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Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Gaining critical characterization insights for development of CAR-T Therapies for Solid Tumors

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Few would disagree that solid tumours currently present both the greatest challenge and the most significant opportunity to the T cell immunotherapy field. The scientific obstacles are far from trivial, but recent improvements to the enabling technology toolbox and promising autologous and allogeneic approaches entering the clinic suggest that the breakthrough may not be too far away.

Against this backdrop, CGTI assembled a stellar panel to participate in a free-to-view Roundtable this month. Watch Dr Sadik Kassim (Executive Director, Kite Pharma, A Gilead Company), Tamara J. Laskowski, PhD, (Senior Research Scientist – Immunotherapy, Allison Group Department of Immunology, MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dr Janani Krishnamurthy (Senior Scientist, Atara Biotherapeutics) and John O’Rourke (Head Of Product Development, Cell Analytics, Sartorius) as they explore some of the key strategic and technical questions facing academia, pharma/biotech and the enabling tool provider community alike.

Watch this On Demand for this free webinar today to find out:

Experts from two of the foremost cell & gene therapy biotechs seeking to drive this transition, plus a leading academic and analytics tool provider, assemble to discuss progress to date and next steps in this vital endeavor.




Dr Tamara J. Laskowski, Senior Research Scientist – Immunotherapy, Allison Group Department of Immunology, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Tamara J Laskowski received her doctorate degree in Human Molecular Genetics and Immunology from University of Texas Health Science Center where her work focused on genome editing of patient-derived stem cells to correct genetic mutations causative of Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome, a immunodeficiency disorder that results in severe impairments to the immune system. Through her work, she demonstrated the ability to repair the underlying defects and restore normal immune function. Subsequently, Tamara joined Dr. Laurence J.N. Cooper’s laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center as a fellow. Her work focuses on engineering stem cells with the goal of generating off-the-shelf NK and T-cell immunotherapies for targeting solid tumor malignancies. Dr. Laskowski also shares an interest in technology innovation, and has developed novel multi-plex assays for testing therapies against solid tumors. In 2017, this work led to an invitation to participate in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, an exclusive program through which she was trained on strategies for expanding the economic and societal benefits of innovative ideas which have commercialization potential. She was the sole recipient of an award for outstanding performance upon completion of the program. In addition to her research work, Dr. Laskowski also serves as a scientific communications coach and peer editor at MD Anderson, helping to promote effective communication between scientists and the public.


John O’Rourke, Head of Product Development, Cell Analytics, Intellicyt, A Sartorius Company

John O’Rourke completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The Ohio State University where he studied cancer biology and gene regulation. During his postdoctoral training at Nationwide’s Children’s Research Institute and the University of New Mexico, he continued his studies in cancer biology along with the development of viral and nanoparticle-based therapeutics. Mr O’Rourke completed his MBA at the Andersen School of Management at the University of New Mexico and joined IntelliCyt in 2017.


Dr Janani Krishnamurthy, CAR-T Pre-clinical lead, AtaraBio Therapeutics

Dr. Krishnamurthy, a pharmacist by training, graduated with a Ph.D. in the field of translational immunology from UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas. As part of her PhD project, she successfully developed a novel CAR T therapy targeting an ancient retrovirus to treat melanoma and breast cancer, which was patented and acquired by Ziopharm. Her biotech industry experiences include leading the assessment of potential CAR T to treat solid tumors, establishing R&D platforms at Bluebird Bio; Product development, process development, strategizing company’s portfolio and IND filing for phase1 clinical trial at TCR2 Therapeutics. Currently she is leading the development of allogenic off-the-shelf CAR T cell therapy to treat solid tumors at AtaraBio Therapeutics.



Sadik Kassim, Executive Director, Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company

Dr. Sadik Kassim is Executive Director at Kite Pharma, where he oversees the CMC activities for all next generation immune cell therapies for cancer. Previously, Sadik was Chief Scientific Officer of Mustang Bio. Prior to Mustang, Sadik was Head of Analytical Development for Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapies Unit in Cambridge, MA where he contributed the BLA and MAA filings for Kymriah™. Earlier in his career, Dr. Kassim was a research biologist in the Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute, where he was involved in early research and CMC work that led to the development of Kite’s Yescarta™ (CD19 CAR T) for lymphoma. Sadik was a research fellow in the University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) Gene Therapy Program where he led the initial discovery efforts and pre-clinical studies for an AAV8 gene therapy for familial hypercholesteromia. This program is now in the clinic as part of RegenexBio’s RGX-501 program.

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