Associate Professor of Immunology
Endowed Peng Chair
Medical University of South Carolina
Dr. Chrystal Paulos is an expert in basic and translational aspects of T cells in tumor immunity. T cell-based cancer immunotherapy has been her research focus for more than a decade. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the NIH with Dr. Nicholas Restifo, where her research focus was on understanding the mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of host preconditioning prior to adoptive T-cell transfer therapy, an approach that augments treatment outcome in melanoma patients. Her work was the first to successfully demonstrate a key role of mucosal inflammation (induced by lymphodepletion) on increasing the efficacy of transferred tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, leading to cures in mice with established melanoma. She also studied the role of IL-17 producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells (Th1, Th17, Tc1 and Tc17 cells) in tumor immunity. She did her second postdoc with Dr. Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on engineering human Th17 cells to treat patients with cancer. Her work was the first to show that costimulatory molecules that activate human Th17 cells dramatically alter their functional fate and tumor activity. In that past 6 years, Chrystal has been an Associate Professor at the NCI-designated Hollings Cancer Center at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Her established lab identifies signaling cues and cytokines that regulate human T cell activation and function for immunotherapies for cancer. She also studies how lymphodepletion regulates the antitumor activity of T cells and how to exploit these mechanisms to improve treatment outcomes in patients with advanced malignancies.