Meet the team DEDICATED MEMBERS OF THE PINILLA-IBARZ LAB

 

pinilla

Javier Pinilla Ibarz, MD, Ph.D
Senior Member
Department of Immunology and Malignant Hematology
Head of Lymphoma
Director of Immunotherapy
Email: Javier.pinilla@moffitt.org
Phone: (813)-745-6335

Area of Research: Currently I am a Senior Member, Head of the Lymphoma Service, and Director of Immunotherapy in the Department of Malignant Hematology at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Yearly, more than 1000 new consultation for lymphomas are seen at the clinic and there are available database with detail clinical annotation. Clinical samples are currently banked under several research protocols. Our laboratory is interested in implementing new epigenetic immunotherapeutic strategies in the field of lymphomas.. In previous publications, we identified epigenetically inducible antigens (EIAs) for CLL. We have also reported the increase of surface expression of costimulatory molecules in these cells by using certain histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) as well in combination with DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (DNMTi). We have demonstrated a more effective immunological interaction between malignant B cell and T cells after epigenetic manipulation. More recently we have been studied the role of HDAC6 in the B cell biology, demonstrating its potential role as target by HDAC6 inhibition and the capability to induce T cell reprograming. Additionally, our lab is vested in investigating the immunomodulatory role of PI3 kinase inhibitors in NHL.

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eva

Eva Sahakian, Ph.D
Senior Research Scientist/Clinical Science Lab
Moffitt Cancer Center
Department of Immunology & Malignant Hematology
Assistant Professor/Oncologic Sciences
USF Morsani College of Medicine
Email: eva.sahakian@moffitt.org
Phone: (813) 745-8439

I am a senior research scientist fellow with 14+ years of basic science research experience in cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and immunology. Presently I work with Dr. Javier Pinilla-Ibarz laboratory at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute with affiliations in Departments of Immunology/Clinical Science Labs and Division of Malignant Hematology. I also hold an academic rank of assistant professor at University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine in the department of oncologic sciences. The underlying principle of our studies in our laboratories is to better understand the biology of particular B-cells malignancies. The central focus of our studies is to demonstrate that the expression of specific HDACs can influence the immunobiology of B-cell malignancies. In addition we hypothesize that genetic and/or pharmacologic manipulation of these HDACs in combination with other BCR signaling inhibitors may lead to a more specific immunomodulatory and epigenetic-based therapies. The goal of our laboratory is to evaluate novel strategies designed to 1-circumvent the lack of immunogenicity in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), 2-reverse impaired T cell polarization (by inhibiting PI3Kd), and 3-improve defective immune-synapse in CLL. Finally, our studies will culminate in a proof-of-concept investigation of clinical samples and a mouse model. Our studies will offer a solid basis for the design for future combination studies, and we anticipate that these studies will provide key insights into novel and effective immunotherapeutic strategies.

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wael

Kamira Maharaj, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Moffitt Cancer Center
Department of Immunology
Email: kamira.maharaj@moffitt.org
Phone: (813) 745-6333

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Moffitt Cancer Center with 9+ years of basic science research experience in the Cancer Biology field. Presently I am under the mentorship of Dr. Pinilla-Ibarz. The underlying principle of my studies is to enhance cancer immunotherapy through basic science approaches. In my current postdoctoral work, I aim to investigate the immunomodulatory therapeutic capacity of CK1 epsilon in graft-versus-host disease, a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients faced with hematological malignacies. These studies will offer a solid basis for the design for future combination studies and repurposing, and we anticipate that these studies will provide key insights into novel and effective immunotherapeutic strategies.

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wael

Wael Gamal, M.Sc.
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Immunology, Moffitt Cancer Center
Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program
USF Morsani College of Medicine
Email: wael.gamal@moffitt.org
Phone: (813) 745-6335

I am a Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Sciences Program at University of South Florida. I had my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Cairo University in Egypt. Currently I am working as a graduate research assistant in Dr. Javier Pinilla-Ibarz laboratory at Moffitt Cancer Center. The main focus of my research is to gain a better understanding of the defective crosstalk between T-cells and malignant B-cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Using clinical patient samples and CLL mouse models, my target will be to explore the effect of different B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling inhibitors like BTK and PI3K inhibitors, and epigenetic modifiers like HDAC inhibitors on reprogramming the dysfunctional T-cell compartment in CLL. Interrogating more durable T-cell phenotypes with improved expansion potential will allow us to design novel CAR-T therapy modalities with high in-vivo persistence for CLL patient treatment. Moreover, one of my main research interests is to investigate the metabolic alterations affecting the T-cell compartment in relation to the B-cell malignancy in CLL. Linking the effect of BCR signaling inhibitors with the T-cell metabolic activity in CLL can provide us with a new perspective for the mode of action of these drugs which can be used for improving their clinical therapeutic benefits.

 

ResearchGate

Publications:

  1. Bansal A, Gamal W, Wu X, Yang Y, Olson V, D'Souza MJ. Evaluation of an adjuvanted hydrogel-based pDNA nanoparticulate vaccine for rabies prevention and immunocontraception. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine. 2019 Oct 1;21:102049.
  2. Gamal W, Fahmy RH, Mohamed MI. Development of novel amisulpride-loaded solid self-nanoemulsifying tablets: preparation and pharmacokinetic evaluation in rabbits. Drug development and industrial pharmacy. 2017 Sep 2;43(9):1539-47.
  3. Gamal W, Fahmy RH, Mohamed MI. Development of novel amisulpride-loaded liquid self-nanoemulsifying drug delivery systems via dual tackling of its solubility and intestinal permeability. Drug development and industrial pharmacy. 2017 Sep 2;43(9):1530-8.

 

john

John J. Powers, BSc.
Research Lab Coordinator
Clinical Science Division, Moffitt Cancer Center
Email: john.powers@moffitt.org
Phone: (813)-745-6335

I am the Research Lab Coordinator in Dr. Javier Pinilla-Ibarz laboratory. I have nearly 15 years of experience in molecular/cell biology, immunology and 12 years of experience in Flow Cytometry. I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida in 2001.  My prior work experience was with Dr. Nascone-Yoder in the creation of an RNA probe library of the embryonic heart in Xenopus Laevis and with Dr. Bradley in the purification of a pinecone extract and the identification of its immunological effects in dendritic cells.  I have worked at Moffitt Cancer Center since 2007 with Dr. Pinilla. I have focused studies on utilizing inhibitors of histone deacetylase to elicit epigenetic modifications leading to immunologic reprograming or repriming in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).  Current studies involve interrogating the role of Pi3K in the dysfunctional T-cell/B-cell interaction in CLL.

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alex

Alexandra Achille, BSc.
Research Project Specialist
Clinical Science Division, Moffitt Cancer Center
Email: alex.achille@moffitt.org
Phone: (813)-745-6335

I have been a Research Associate at the Moffitt Cancer Center for the last 12+ years, working in labs whose focuses have mainly been involved with the function of HDACs in cancer biology. Currently, I am working in the Pinilla Lab under the guidance of Dr. Pinilla and his Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Sahakian. In addition to maintaining our vast colony of mice strains, some uniquely crossed within our group, I also support the lab as a whole by assisting on various projects, keeping shelves stocked with all reagents and supplies as well as ordering when needed.

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