Tumor Immunology Program


Dr. Antoni Ribas


Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D.

Contact via email


Yvonne Chen, Ph.D.

Contact via email


The UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Tumor Immunology (TI) research program provides a research environment focused on enhancing the understanding of tumor immunology and developing   new immunotherapies for cancer. This is based on understanding fundamental biological processes and applying these insights to the development of new immune-modulating agents and genetically engineered adoptive cell transfer therapies, and then clinically translating novel treatment strategies and analyzing patient-derived samples to further understand the mechanistic basis of responses and resistance to therapies. This comprehensive process facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations and supports a systematic approach to the development of next-generation cancer immunotherapies.

The TI research program brings together basic and translational scientists into an environment that has spawned novel investigator-initiated immunotherapy clinical trials and the approval of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies for a broad range of tumor types. The research program’s basic science has a strong focus on genetic engineering of T-cell responses to cancer and understanding how the immune system and cancer interplay, in terms of both the biology of immune responses to cancer and the relationship between inflammation and cancer. The research program further focuses on several research areas including the relationship between inflammation and cancer, the use of antibody fusion proteins for cancer therapy and their combination with targeted therapies to sensitize cancer cells to immunotherapy, and improving the lives of patients with AIDS-related cancers.


The specific aims of the TI research program are to:

  1. Provide an optimal interactive environment between basic scientists, translational investigators and clinicians to enhance the understanding of tumor immunology
  2. Develop novel immune-based clinical therapies for patients with cancer


Director Dr. Antoni Ribas is a professor of medicine, professor of surgery, and professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA. Ribas is a physician-scientist who conducts laboratory and clinical research in malignant melanoma, focusing on gene-engineered T cells, PD-1 blockade and BRAF targeted therapies. His National Cancer Institute, State of California and foundation-supported research laboratory develops models of disease to test new therapeutic options, studies mechanism of action of treatments in patients and the molecular mechanisms of therapy resistance. He is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, has a Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Buenos Aires, is the recipient of the 2014 AACR Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award, the 2018 AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology and an NCI Outstanding Investigator Award. As director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA, he coordinates the research of five funded laboratories aimed at advancing new immunotherapies for cancer and conducting PICI multicenter clinical trials. And, as Chair of the Melanoma Committee at SWOG he aims at bringing to clinical trials in the cooperative groups original research arising from the TI research program and other cancer centers with the goal of improving treatments for patients with cancer.

Co-director Yvonne Chen is an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Her laboratory focuses on applying synthetic biology and biomolecular engineering techniques to the development of novel mammalian cell systems, particularly T-cell therapy for cancer. Chen was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows prior to joining UCLA in 2013, and has been a recipient of the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, the Hellman Fellowship, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Young Investigator Award in Cell and Gene Therapy for Cancer, the NSF CAREER Award, and the Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Award. Chen is a member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA and collaborates with cancer center members both within and outside the TI research program on clinical translation of CAR-T cell therapy as well as basic research aimed at engineering more robust cell-based immunotherapies.

Upcoming events

The following list is for upcoming events and seminars of notable interest to the Tumor Immunology Program and its members. This calendar is updated automatically.

For a list of all upcoming JCCC events (including other research programs, patients and survivors, and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation), please visit the Events Calendar.

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center 2nd Annual All Center Retreat


We are excited to announce the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 2nd Annual All Center Retreat! The all-day event will take place at the Luskin Conference Center on May 5, 2022.

Online registration has closed. But there's still time! You can register via email until April 28. Please contact Juliana Ryan at JKRyan@mednet.ucla.edu.

All attendees are subject to Los Angeles County Health Department and UCLA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Requirements for entrance to the Retreat include providing proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event at check-in, completion of the UCLA Daily Symptom Monitoring Survey, and adherence to all masking guidelines (currently universal masking required for all indoor events regardless of vaccination status). For all the current campus COVID-19 guidelines, please visit UCLA's COVID-19 website.

We look forward to seeing you at the Retreat!



Registration, Lobby & Exhibit Hall Open
Breakfast served in Centennial Hall Pre-Function Area


Welcome & Opening Remarks

Michael Teitell, MD, PhD
Professor & Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology
Director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive
President, UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation

Johnese Spisso, RN, MPA
President, UCLA Health
CEO, UCLA Hospital System
Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences

Steven M. Dubinett, MD
Interim Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, UCLA

Session I


New Technologies for the Study & Treatment of Cancer

Robert Prins, PhD (Session Moderator)
Professor, Neurosurgery

"Using an Organoid Transplantation Model of Glioblastoma to Characterize Cell Fate"
Aparna Bhaduri, PhD
Assistant Professor, Biological Chemistry

"Multidimensional Characterization of the Tumor Immune Microenvironment"
Willy Hugo, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine, Dermatology

"Synthetic IL9R Signaling for Adoptive T Cell Therapy of Cancer"
Anusha Kalbasi, MD
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology

"UCLA Molecular Radio-Theranostic Program: From Clinical Research to the Outpatient Therapy Center"
Jeremie Calais, MD
Associate Professor, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology\


Poster Viewing & Networking

Session II


Advancing Equity Across the JCCC: Workforce, Research, Clinical Care and Community Engagement Initiatives

"Cancer Disparities in Los Angeles: Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities" and "Increasing Enrollment of Diverse Populations in JCCC Clinical Trials"
Beth Glenn, PhD (Session Moderator)
Professor, Health Policy and Management
Fielding School of Public Health
Co-Director, Disparities, Community Outreach and Engagement
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Director, UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity

"Why Workforce Diversity is Important: Examples of Ongoing Efforts at UCLA Health"
Medell Briggs-Malonson, MD, MPH, MSHS
Chief, Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
UCLA Health
Associate Clinical Professor, Emergency Medicine

"Reducing Disparities in Lung Cancer Screening in Los Angeles"

Ashley Prosper, MD
Assistant Professor, Radiological Sciences
Fielding School of Public Health

"Enhancing Health Equity through Community Engagement"
Alison Herrmann, PhD
Research Scientist, Health Policy and Management
Fielding School of Public Health


Keynote Speaker

"Factors Influencing Cancer Disparities: Toward Achieving Cancer Health Equity"
John D. Carpten, PhD
Professor & Chair
Department of Translational GenomicsRoyce & Mary Trotter Chair in Cancer Research
Professor, Department of Urology
Associate Director of Basic Sciences
Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California


Lunch & Networking
Luskin Center Terrace

Session III


Therapeutic Applications & Agents

Michael E. Jung, PhD (Session Moderator)
Distinguished Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
UC Presidential Chair in Medicinal Chemistry

"Development of an Androgen Receptor Degrader Targeting the N-Terminus"
Matthew Rettig, MD
Professor, Medicine and Urology

"UCLA Neuro-Oncology Drug Discovery and Development Program"
Diana Marquez-Garban, MD
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Medicine, Hematology-Oncology

"Development of New Antiestrogens for Breast Cancer Treatment in Combination with Immunotherapy"
David Nathanson, PhD
Associate Professor, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology


Poster Viewing & Networking

Session IV


Enabling Technologies & Resources

Manish Butte, MD, PhD (Session Moderator)
Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Allergy/Immunology

"Using Avian CAM Models to Generate New PDXs to Study Cancer Metastasis and Therapeutics"
Lily Wu, MD, PhD
Professor, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology\

"Enabling Data-Driven Research and AI Using UCLA’s Electronic Health Records"
Alex Bui, PhD
Professor, Radiological Sciences

"How Can the Cancer Registry Help You in Conducting Your Research?"
Patricia A. Ganz, MD
Professor, Health Policy & Management
Fielding School of Public Health
David Geffen School of Medicine

"Technologies of Single Cell and Spatial Transcriptomics Available at the Cancer Center’s Genomics Shared Resource"
Xinmin Li, PhD
Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine


Closing Remarks

Michael Teitell, MD, PhD
Professor & Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology
Director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive
President, UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation


Post-Retreat Reception
Appetizers and Drinks in Centennial Hall Pre-Function Area


Retreat Concludes

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